I wanted to write about leap year because leap day is tomorrow and I won’t have another chance to write about it for four years.
I have a hunch that some cults do something nasty to mark leap year’s day. It seems to me that anything out of the ordinary is an excuse to abuse children, animals, and weaker adults. My Googling gave me precious little background, however.
There were explanations of how and why the year is a little longer than 365 days, and how every four years an extra day was added to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. The only thing that came to mind was that, for those groups that use numerology, 2/29 is 2 + 2 + 9 = 13 or 2/29/2016 is 2 + 2 + 9 = 13 plus 2 + 0 +1 + 6 = 9 and then 13 + 9 = 22 and then 2 + 2 = 4. Both 13 and 9 rang a bell for me as being bad numbers.
I know nothing about numerology, except that it exists and it is complicated and that it is used by quite a few groups. If anybody knows more than that, perhaps you could clarify the meaning of leap year’s day in general and this particular one in particular in the comments’ section.
The Hebrew calendar is lunar, and rather than adding an extra day, it adds an extra month. It is added before Adar, and is called First Adar, while the normal Adar is called Second Adar. First Adar is added seven times every nineteen years (specifically, in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19). This is to ensure that Passover always occurs in the spring. Again, it is possible that numerology might come into play.
There aren’t a lot of old customs listed, but those that are appear to go back to the Roman festival of Februa, from February 14 to 16, when people were ritually washed in a rite of purification. Spring cleaning, anyone? Ferbrua was later incorporated into Lupercalia, which matches purification with fertility rites. See https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
All the English customs seem to be connected to women proposing marriage to men. In Ireland and Britain, women may propose marriage only in leap years. Supposedly, Queen Margaret of Scotland made a law in 1288 that if a girl proposed to a man and he refused, he was fined. The fine was a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, one pound, and a kiss. One pound was a fortune back then.
A play in the early 17th century said that women wore breeches during leap year if they wished to propose to a man. Later, they wore a scarlet petticoat instead.
Drawing on these old customs, Al Capp, in Lil Abner, created Sadie Hawkin’s Day in 1937. The father of Sadie, the plainest girl in all of Dogpatch (she was actually 35) told the unmarried men that if Sadie could catch one of them in a race he had to marry her. She did, and they married. This caught on with the high school set and was so popular that Al Capp, ignoring the leap year connection, made the race yearly on November 15, the day Sadie got her man.
So if anybody has more information, please let us know. And if nobody gets upset over the day, perhaps the cults ignored it completely. That, too would be good to know.