A day for the ladies and 'leaplings'

Today is a "leap day" - a day for those like Ja Rule who celebrate their birthday on February 29, and for those women who've decided to pop the question.
Today is a "leap day" - a day for those like Ja Rule who celebrate their birthday on February 29, and for those women who've decided to pop the question. Rachel Urquhart

TODAY, Ja Rule, the now almost middle-aged American rapper, celebrates his ninth birthday. And were Mr Rule not already married, a suitor could legitimately hold a fourth finger up to tradition and ask him for his hand. If he were to refuse, he would be obliged to pay his suitor a fine of anything from a kiss to a dozen pairs of gloves.

Today, you see, is a leap day, the intercalary anomaly that allows "leaplings" in their 80s to pretend they're in their 20s and single ladies of all ages to put a ring on it.

They have Julius Caesar to thank. Way back in 46 BC, he ditched the chaotic Roman calendar in favour of his own, Julian, calendar which, after later reforms, became the Gregorian calendar we use today. Sensible Caesar decided to align his calendar with the solar year, the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun. But Earth takes 365 days and about six hours to make its journey through space. A six-hour day at the end of each year would be silly so instead we add a whole, intercalary day every four years.

However, the Earth's orbit is actually 10 minutes and 48 seconds faster than 365 days and six hours, which is inconvenient. To keep things aligned, leap days come in years evenly divisible by four, except when they are also evenly divisible by 100, when they don't have a leap day, except when they are also evenly divisible by 400, when they do. That's why 1900 did not have a leap day while 2000 did. Got it?

Whatever, today's the day and all over the world an estimated four million people are blowing out candles (you have about one in 1,500 chance of being born on 29 February) while commitment phobic men with twitchy-fingered partners bulk buy gloves. At least they do in Denmark, apparently. The table-turning proposal purportedly started as a tradition in 5th century Ireland. Others trace it to 13th century Scotland, where Queen Margaret required a man who said no to soften the blow with a kiss, a pound or a silk gown.

It's not that great, being a leapling, your ability to defy age notwithstanding. Many websites won't allow you to enter 29 February as your date of birth. Some countries legally compel you to settle for 28 February, while others go for 1 March.

And while leapers get to celebrate today (happy birthday, Ja) we should all be commiserating. Is your employer paying you an extra day's wages this year? Thought not.

Topics:  leap year opinion proposals romance

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Gable Tostee: His own words about that fatal night

Gable Tostee

Gable Tostee talks about the pizza, the recording, and that night

30 train services a day halted by driver shortage

FRUSTRATED: Sunshine Coast commuters Kieron Wallace and Jeff Addison, pictured in 2015, are among those frustrated at the state of current rail services.

Queensland Rail bolsters customer service staff after service issues

Outcry after police speed trap van blocks path

DOUBLE STANDARD? A reader snapped this shot of a speed camera van blocking the footpath at Yamanto.

This would land you a $48 fine, but it's fine when the police do it

Local Partners

RAIL CHAOS: Expect crowding on service to Brisbane

OVERCROWDING on the inner-city service from Caboolture to Brisbane will be the main fallout from the timetable chaos for Sunshine Coast commuters.

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Australian Survivor's magician Matt out of tricks

Australian Survivor contestant Matt Tarrant.

SHOW'S power couple looks unstoppable in race to the finish.

Top floor teams take out The Block's terrace week

Kim and Chris pictured on their winning outdoor terrace in a scene from The Block.

RIVALS Kim and Chris and Julia and Sasha tie in final week of work.

Bob Dylan slammed as 'arrogant' for Nobel silence

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.

Singer the controversial winner of literature Nobel

Shannen Doherty reveals fear of dying in post on chemo

Actor Shannen Doherty shared this image of her lying in a hospital bed after a chemotherapy session.

Actor has been fighting cancer since 2015

Eddie Redmayne's stage fright on latest Harry Potter film

Actor Eddie Redmayne stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Actor felt like kid again when he got to film with a wand

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.