Today's a day we haven't seen since 2008 - February 29th! Normally of course February only has 28 days, except for when it is a Leap Year, when one extra day is added. The reason for this is simply that our 12 month calendar of 365 days doesn't quite match up to the actual amount of time it takes for the Earth to rotate around the sun (a solar year). By adding the extra day in at the end of February on Leap Years we help to address this discrepancy.
However, it 's not true to say that a Leap Year occurs every four years, because it doesn't! This is a popular misconception, largely because it is true most of the time. In fact a year becomes a Leap Year if it is divisible by 4, but if the year is also divisible by 100 then it is not a Leap Year unless it is also divisible by 400! Phew! That's why 1900 wasn't a Leap Year but 2000 was. The next Leap Year will be in 2016. But why do we call it a Leap Year? It seems odd since a Leap Year is the only year when we don't leap over February 29th and ignore it. It almost seems as though logically every other year should be called a Leap Year, with February 29th turning an extended year into a Sedate Year!
In the UK hundreds of years ago February 29th was not officially recognised in law. This meant that the day was effectively ignored by UK law, and simply 'leapt over'. This also meant that there were some who saw themselves as completely free from the law for a day! Of course, one of the traditions of February 29th is that women can propose to men. This began in the 5th century when a rather disgruntled St Bridget complained to St Patrick about the unfairness of women having to hang around waiting for menfolk to eventually pop the question. In what undoubtedly was considered by him to be a fair and just offering he declared that any woman so desiring could be allowed to pop the question on February 29th. In fact this tradition goes a lot further than this.
In Scotland there a law was established by Queen Mary in 1288 which stated that no man could legally refuse a proposal made to him by a woman on February 29th. Should he dare to do so a significant fine was imposed. Good luck!