By Alex Balimwikungu
GUYS are you a bachelor with no intentions of getting hitched and you are reading this, perhaps with single women around you? Stop reading, stealthily saunter away, go into hiding and switch off your phone for the day.
For the ladies, you know you donâ€™t yet have a firm grip on this guy and you let him go to work unaccompanied by you? You could have lost him. Someone might have already proposed.
Well, if you hadnâ€™t yet known, today is Leap Day. If folklore and superstition are anything to go by, it is the only day in four years that women are allowed to propose marriage to men â€” with the men powerless to turn down the proposals.
A man is expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused the marriage offer.
Those men who have harboured intentions for certain ladies, it is your chance to hover around your object of affection. Never know they could follow tradition and say the magic words.
Interestingly, much as this day causes ripples in the UK and US, in Greece, it is bad luck for couples to marry in a leap year, worse still a leap day.
However, for those born on this day; there are no excuses for not celebrating your day. The next time you might celebrate your next birthday is in 2012.
Today (February 29) is a leap day and if you are a â€˜leaperâ€™ (born on this day), you need to celebrate today with a passion.
Iâ€™d recommend you party until you drop; make up for the three years you spent watching friends and family celebrate birthdays on days that exist.
How does it come up?
Leap day is an extra day added to the month of February in a leap year. February 29 is the 60th day of a leap year in the Gregorian calendar. It occurs every four years in years evenly divisible by four except for centenary years not divisible by 400.
A leap day is more likely to occur on Mondays or Wednesdays because the Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years.
History of Leap Day
In ancient Rome, Leap Day was on February 24 because February was the last month of the calendar. The Roman calendar added an extra month every few years to maintain seasonal changes. In the Julian calendar initiated in 45 BCE, Leap Day was added to the end of February every four years.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII refined the Julian calendar with the rule that a century year is not a leap year unless it is evenly divisible by 400. The Gregorian calendar was observed in some countries including Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain and Great Britain.
Observances on Leap Day
Leap day is also St Oswaldâ€™s Day, named after a 10th century archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. The feast is celebrated on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 in other years.
February 29 is one of the days of AyyÃ¡m-i-HÃ¡ (February 26 to March 1) in the BahÃ¡â€™Ã calendar. These days are dedicated to fasting preparations, charity, hospitality and gift-giving.
Leap Day birthdays
Some people born on February 29 prefer to celebrate their birthday on February 28 in a non-leap year, while others celebrate on March 1 because they do not turn next age on February 28.
There are those who celebrate their birthday every leap year because they believe there is no substitute for a February 29 birthday.
In some cases, their legal birthdays depend on the rules and regulations of where they live. Many countries make amendments for those born on leap days so they can be considered eligible for marriage, driving and other activities that require a legal age.
For instance, in Maryland USA, one man waited for six months to get the driverâ€™s license because the computer did not recognise the February 29 birth date.
Famous people born today
1468 â€“ Pope Paul III (died 1549)
1896 â€“ Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (died 1995)
1924 â€“ Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
1960 â€“ Anthony Robbins, American motivational speaker
1964 â€“ Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
1972 â€“ Antonio SabÃ to Jr, Italian-born actor
1976 â€“ JA Rule, American rapper