I wonder if kids today have ever played the game of Leapfrog. The dictionary defines Leapfrog as a game in which one player bends down so another player can leap over the back of the first player. The first known use of Leapfrog was in 1599. The name means to go ahead in turn.
I fear it is a game long lost, but when I thought of today and leap year, for some reason I thought of the old game. A simple game. Maybe too simple for today’s youth or maybe it would be an intriguing game if we ever thought to teach them the game. It would create laughter, especially if someone my age would try it.
Today is Feb. 29. Once in four years Feb. 29 appears out of the mist of the calendar, somewhat like Brigadoon does in the musical. So if I had been born in 1952, I would be almost 17 years old today and I would be able to play leapfrog because I would still be young. If I went by the actual leap year age I might think I could play the game but my body may prove to be a little too decrepit to jump over those silly enough to think I could play.
If I wasn’t married and I went by the old folklore tradition in Ireland and Britain, today would be the only day I could ask someone to marry me. And in Finland the old tradition states that if a man refuses the proposal on leap day he must buy the woman fabric for a skirt. In Greece a marriage in leap year was considered unlucky.
Apparently we do have a few traditions in the United States, too. According to Wikipedia, in 1988 Anthony, Texas, declared itself the leap year capitol of the world and it started an international leaping birthday club. Checking the Anthony community website, it is still celebrated in a big way.
I remember Sadie Hawkins day in school. In my high school days women didn’t ask guys out, so the Sadie Hawkins dance was an exception. It was the one dance women asked the guys out. At the time I didn’t realize Feb. 29 was the official day for that.
Yes, life has changed this leap year 2016. Leapfrog is no longer a popular game and the old taboos of women asking men out has gone by the wayside.
In 2016 women are free to ask men for dates and propose marriage to the man in their life on any day of the year. Women no longer have to wait on pins and needles for men to ask them out. Women can take the initiative to ask a man out if they are interested in him. No one will take them to task or tell them they are too brazen making the first move.
I wonder if today’s kids know the traditions of leap year, or if they just let the day pass by thinking it is another day on the calendar. Those born on this day in the leap year might only remember it as having to change their celebration to a non birthday day.
A year is defined as the time it takes to orbit the sun. The earth orbits the sun about 365 1/4 days to make an entire rotation around the sun. By adding an extra day every four years the earth is at the same point of its orbit at the same time of the calendar year after year. Because February is the shortest month, the extra day is added every four years to February. The calendar we use is the Gregorian Calendar. Some leap years are skipped because the earth’s orbit is a little less than the 365 1/4. I am happy there is information on the Internet or I wouldn’t have got that far in my calculations.
So, happy Feb. 29. Happy birthday to those who can actually celebrate on their day. You may want to also teach your kids to play the simple game of Leapfrog. It doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t require any electricity and may make them all laugh, especially if a 17-year-old born in the leap year on Feb. 29, 1952, plays. It will be a game they always remember.