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Quotations about Leap Year Day,
Leap Years, Leap Day, & February 29th

 


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Welcome to the Web's first — and thus far, only — page of quotations about leap year and leap day. I've spent many eye-blearing hours looking through old books to find references to this quadrennial day. Please enjoy! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g


Surely this was a sign on Leap Year night!... It's the 29th. Go in and win. Don't be afraid. ~A.A. Milne, Lovers in London, 1905  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


In 1582 Pope Gregory found there had been ten superfluous leap years and took ten days out of the calendar, and reduced the future number of leap years. In 1752 the English adopted the system, allowing eleven days for error, as it had been constantly increasing. This is a very simple matter, but it has puzzled old heads. ~Charles W. Felt, "The True Forefathers' Day," in Holy-Days and Holidays compiled by Edward M. Deems, 1902


A strange amazing day that comes only once every four years... A day of temporal tune up! ~Vera Nazarian


Thirty dayes hath November,
April, June, and September,
Twenty-and-eight hath February alone,
And all the rest thirty-and-one,
But in the leape you must add one.
~Harrison, quoted by Denham


It takes three springs to make one leap year. ~The Comic Almanack


This is Leap Year, and ancient proverbs say,
If lads don't leap this year, the lasses may.
~Poor Sir Robin's Almanac," Observations upon the four Quarters of the Year," 1792


'Tis leap year, lady, and therefore very good to enter a courtier. ~George Chapman, Bussy d'Ambois, 1608  ["The custom of women proposing in leap year is said to have originated from a law passed in Scotland in 1228; another legend attributes it to St Patrick." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


I draw my chair beside the gr8
And dreamily I medit8
Upon my present single st8
I wonder if relentless F8
Ordains for me a living m8—
Such dreams have haunted me of l8.
This year, which I would celebr8,
Is leap year; but its precious fr8
Of lawful days to fascin8
Decreases at a rapid r8...
~"8TEEN 8T 8" (An Ancient Maiden's Twilight Reverie), in America, 1889 September 5th, contributed by "Pan"


The year of the sun consisteth of three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours, wanting eleven minutes; which six hours omitted, will, in time, deprave the compute: and this was the occasion of bissextile, or leap year. ~Brown, quoted by Johnson


For leap year comes naething but ance in the four. ~Robert Shennan, "Leap Year"


Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November,
February eight-and-twenty all alone,
And all the rest have thirty-one;
Unless that leap year doth combine,
And give to February twenty-nine.
~Return from Parnassus, 1606


Except in leap year, at which time,
February's days are twenty-nine.
~Variation on the famous rhyme


But leap year cometh once in four,
And gives to February one day more.
~Variation on the famous rhyme


Except in February alone,
In which do twenty-eight appear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
~Variation on the famous rhyme


 
 
Intercalary: Inserted out of the common order to preserve the equation of time, as the twenty-ninth of February in a leap year is an intercalary day. ~A Dictionary of the English Language by Robert Gordon Latham, founded on that of Dr. Samuel Johnson as edited by H.J. Todd, 1866


Mudar bisiesto.—"To alter one's course."—"Bisiesto," is the Spanish for our Bissextile or leap year. The proverb signifies that a man has begun to repent his follies. ~A Dictionary of Spanish Proverbs translated into English with explanatory illustrations by John Collins, 1823


To find leap year you have this rule:—
Divide by iv, what's left shall be,
For leap year 0, for past i, ii, and iii.
~Harris, quoted by Denham


      I am a little fellow,
      Though I'm always up to date.
The days I hold within my hand are only twenty-eight;
      But I just save my moments up,
      And count them o'er and o'er,
Till in four years I've saved enough to make up one day more.
But little folks that kindly are, and pleasant in their play,
May save enough in far less time to make a happy day.
~Pauline Frances Camp, "February," in St. Nicholas, February 1906


During a Leap Year, as Leap Day approached, I began to have this sense I was to get what I always seem to need: an extra 24 hours in the day.... Then I started to think Leap Day should be designated a holiday so people can take advantage of the extra 24 hours however they wished.... By marking this bonus day in some special way, we would celebrate time—really consider what it means to have time here on Earth—and thus, be present with our life and our time together. ~Kara Douglass Thom, "Look Where You Leap," Winning as a Fit Mom, 2015


The while you clasp me closer,
The while I press you deeper,
As safe we chuckle,—under breath,
Yet all the slyer, the jocoser,—
"So, life can boast its day, like leap-year,
Stolen from death!"
~Robert Browning, "St. Martin's Summer"


She gently took his passive hand,
      And tenderly she placed
      Her arm, without a reprimand,
      About his willing waist.
She drew him close; a reverent kiss
      Upon his brow she pressed,
      He yielded, and a new-found bliss
      Set all her fears at rest.
Then in a wild, impassioned way,
      Her love for him she told,
      And begged of him that he would say
      She'd not been over bold.
      Without him all her life, she said,
      Would be a desert drear;
      If he said "No," she'd never wed—
      At least till next Leap Year.
Blushing, he heard her bravely through,
      And then he cooed: "Oh, la!
      This is so awful sudden, Sue!
      You'll have to ask my ma!"
~"Her Proposal," c. late 1800s


Leap-year is, according to traditionary lore, invested with sundry privileges and immunities to the fair. ~Frederick Saunders, "The Cycle of the Seasons," Salad for the Solitary and the Social, 1871


The people fear me; for they do observe
Unfather'd heirs and loathly births of nature.
The seasons change their manners, as the year
Had found some months asleep, and leapt them over.
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II [IV, 4, Prince Humphrey]  ☺


24-7, I want to make our love better
I want to make our love better
12 months in the year
52 weeks per annual
365 days a year
Leap year makes it better
~Myles W. Wallace, "24-7," Poems from My Heart, 2014


This being Leap Year the signs of the Zodiak are all on the rampage. Although the signs of the Billings Zodiak are all on the jump this year... there is no cause for alarm. Once in four years this frolic occurs, and is said by the doctors to be necessary for their health. ~Josh Billings, Farmers' Allminax, 1872  [For ease of reading, spelling has been standardized. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Another day, another day...! ~Walter Scott, The Bridal of Triermain, 1813  [This wasn't originally written in the context of Leap Year Day, but I saw it used as such in a birthday book from the 1800s and thought it was rather clever. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


      A girl looked calmly at a caller one evening and remarked: "George, as it is leap year—"
      The caller turned pale.
      "As it is leap year," she continued, "and you've been calling regularly now four nights a week for a long, long time, George, I propose—"
      "I'm not in a position to marry on my salary, Grace," George interrupted hurriedly.
      "I know that, George," the girl pursued, "and so, as it is leap year, I thought I'd propose that you lay off and give some of the more eligible fellows a chance."
      ~L.F. Clarke, "Leap Year," in Toaster's Handbook: Jokes, Stories and Quotations compiled by Peggy Edmund and Harold Workman Williams, 1916


Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
The rest have thirty-and-one,
Save February alone,
Which month hath but eight-and-twenty mere;
Save when it is bissextile, or leap-year.
~"Concordancy of Years," 1615  [spelling modernized —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


In 452 B.C., the Decemvirs placed February after January, and fixed the order of the months. The year at this time consisted of 365¼ days. According to the imperfect mode of reckoning by the Romans, after the addition of January and February, the twenty-fourth of February was called the sixth before the calends of March, sexto calendas. In the intercalary year this day was repeated and styled bis sexto calendas—whence we derive the term bissextile. The corresponding term leap-year is, however, infelicitously applied, inasmuch as it seems to intimate that a day was leaped over, instead of being thrust in, which is the fact. ~Frederick Saunders, "The Cycle of the Seasons," Salad for the Solitary and the Social, 1871  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


We've waited, oh, these many years,
For you to woo us, pretty dears;
      But leap-years come and leap-years go,
      And still we're waiting, so, so, so—
So, gently woo us, pretty dears.
~William Mill Butler (b.1857), "The Sea Serpent"


It is a common idea, held more in jest, however, than in earnest, that in leap-year it is woman's privilege to "pop the question" to man, in lieu of waiting to be asked. An extension of this notion is found in the leap-year parties not uncommon among the fun-loving young people of America, in which all the usual conditions are reversed, the ladies calling for the gentlemen, choosing their own partners for the dance, and waiting on the moustachioed belles of the occasion. An early reference to the custom occurs in the year 1606: "Albeit it is now become a part of the common lawe in regarde to social relations of life that as often as every bissextile year doth return the ladyes have the sole privilege during the time it continueth of making love unto the men, which they doe either by wordes or by lookes, as to them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of the clergy who dothe in any wise treate her proposal with slight or contumely." ~William S. Walsh, "Leap-year and marriage," Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, 1892  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Listen a moment, and I'll chant you a rhyme,
      A lay of the leap-year—a glad, merry time;
      For now is the season for choosing your mate,
      In eighteen hundred and eighty-eight.
Leap-year is the time when the girls all propose;
      Leap-year is the time for dispelling your woes;
      So ladies advance and don't be too late,
      In eighteen hundred and eighty-eight.
This is the time for all ye who'd be merry,
      For now is the season for "popping the query;"...
Now do not be backward—this is a good chance,
      All ye who've been stabbed with Cupid's sharp lance;
      Don't stay four more years—for this is the date,
      In eighteen hundred and eighty-eight...
~Charles F. Forshaw, "A Leap-Year's Lay," 1888


Some leaplings come up with their own rituals to mark non-leap years. Jan Harrell of Ashland, Oregon, handles off years by staying up until midnight with friends who shout "Happy birthday!" in "that magical nanosecond" between February 28 and March 1. "My birthday feels like a cosmic joke," said Ms Harrell, who turns 64 (16) this week. "But not a bad one, just a very, very funny one." ~"America's 200,000 leap year babies make the most of their unique birthdays" (Associated Press), February 2012  [A leapling is someone born on February 29th. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Why, of all times, could you have selected this odd month and day, for friends to load you with good wishes? ~Birthday letter quoted in J.R. Macduff, Birthdays, 1893  [February 29th birthday. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Dolly:  Why is it leap-year?
Molly:  'Tis said, old maids all leap for joy
      As they go nosing
      Around, proposing...
~William Mill Butler (b.1857), "The Sea Serpent"


February, and the groundhog
      shied earlier:
      a blizzard hit
      after milder weather.
But now it's Leap Day
      —or Sadie Hawkins Day
      when Dogpatch erupts
      with pillow-busted
Daisy Maes hotly
      pursuing Abners.
      At any rate, it's spring;
      or nearly. March's wind
swims in grit and leaves
      the house smelling fresh
      even with windows closed...
~Crystal Bacon (b.1955), "Leap Year," Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, 2004


In Leap Year the weather always changes on a Friday. ~Belgian proverb


Thirty days hath fruit-bearing September,
Moist April, hot June, and cold November,
Short February twenty-eight alone;
The other months have either thirty-one;
And February, when the fourth year's run,
Does gain a day from the swift-moving sun.
~"Shepherd's Kalendar"


To distinguish days of the week in the calendar, we appropriate letters — A, B, C, &c. The dominical letter, or the letter for Sunday, is not constantly the same, but is changed once in every common year, and in every fourth, or leap-year, twice. And the reason is, first, because the common year does not consist of just weeks, but of 52 weeks, and one day. So that as the year begins with an A, set before New-year's-day: so it ends with A, set before the last day. Thus the odd day shifts back to the dominical letter every year, by one letter. And this revolution would be terminated in 7 years. There comes in another odd day every 4th year, being Leap-year. And in that year there are consequently two such shifts, the Sunday letter being changed twice: once at the beginning of the year; and the 2d time towards the latter end of February, by interposition of the Bissextile, because the 6th of the Calends of March is twice repeated. And the reason why this was done in that month, and not rather at the end of the year seems to be, because by Numa's institution for the better regulating the year (in imitation of what the Greeks had done before) there had been an intercalation of several days, at the very time in February. To take a more easy account of these changes, there is appropriated a cycle, which comprehends in order all the variations of the Sunday letter: and is therefore called, the Cycle of the Sun; composed of 4, which makes the Leap-year, and 7, the change of the one odd day, throughout the septimana, or week, 4 times 7 gives 28. This cycle begins at that Leap-year, wherein G and F are the Sunday letters, and is terminated at 28. ~William Holder, A Discourse Concerning Time, 1694  [Simplicity itself, right? Wording has been a little altered, by the way. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Frogs & Lizards really don't care about the meaning of Leap Year
They leap more than 366 times a day without fear.
Now, let us not forget the leap-second,
Which was devised in 1971, I reckon,
To keep in harmony with solar time.
And does not cost us a nickel or a dime
It compensates for the slowing of the earth rotation,
And that my friends is quite a notation....
Sooooooo,...my question is,
As I drink my gin fizz,
Saying this with a shout,
What in tarnation are we talking about?
Just ask the frogs & the leaping lizards
To see if this jargon sticks in their gizzards.
~Joe, "Leap Year," Poems Cleverly Adorned with Words, 2010


Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, apart from those years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do... The Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years... The marginal difference of 0.000125 days between the Gregorian calendar average year and the actual year means that, in 8,000 years, the calendar will be about one day behind where it is now... Anyone born on February 29 may be called a "leapling" or a "leaper". In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1... In Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, the character of Frederic the pirate apprentice is nobbled when he discovers that he is bound to serve the pirates until his 21st birthday rather than until his 21st year... According to astrologers, people born under the sign of Pisces on February 29 have unusual talents and personalities reflecting their special status... Leap year folklore contends that beans and peas planted during a leap year "grow the wrong way". ~Rob Leigh, extracted from "February 29: 29 things you need to know about leap years and their extra day," The Daily Mirror, February 2012


Days twenty-eight in second month appear,
And one day more is added each leap year:
The fourth, eleventh, ninth, and sixth months run
To thirty days,—the rest to thirty-one.
~Society of Friends


Sigh no more, lasses
      When Dan Cupid passes...
For now 'tis his duty
      To bow low to beauty.
      'Tis leap year, you know...
For leap year tradition
      Accords her permission
      To drop all reserve;
      To pick out a lover...
Then sigh no more, lasses.
      When Dan Cupid passes
      'Tis all off with him.
      You've stolen his thunder.
      He must knuckle under
      To womankind's whim.
~Arthur G. Burgoyne, "Leap Year"


A correspondent writes us that in the discussion of methods for the reform of the calendar, there is one that appears to be more practicable, and less objectionable, than any of those given. In a romance, the name and author of which are quite forgotten, the hero was restored to consciousness in the fashion of "Looking Backward," after a century of oblivion. One of the reforms that he found had been effected was a rearrangement of the calendar, as follows: There were thirteen months of twenty-eight days each, all beginning and ending, of course on the same day of the week. This left one day in ordinary years, and two on leap years, to be disposed of. These were cared for by making the first the final day of the year, and calling it "Old Year's Day." The odd day in leap years was placed between Old and New Year's Days, and called Leap Year Day. The great simplicity of this plan, the easy way in which it solves all the complications of our present calendar, must highly commend it. Every year and every month would begin on the same day of the week, presumably Sunday. From this beginning, and with exactly four weeks in each month, the day of the week upon which any date would fall would come quickly to mind. With but slight practice they would present themselves simultaneously. The one objection to it is that the Sabbath would be carried forward one day every year, and two days in leap year. There would be seven or eight consecutive week days at the end of the year. It would seem as tho the practical gain in simplicity and convenience would be sufficient to approve it. We wonder if God would object. ~"Reform of the Calendar" (Editorial), in The Independent, 1911 April 20th


The maiden stood there blushing,
And thinking, "Love is blind,
Or he could see, no other
Was ever in my mind.
He is so chicken-hearted,
He never will propose.
Thank goodness! This is leap-year,
Well, if I must, here goes."
~Ernest Davis, "A Leap-Year Dream," Dreaming on a Trolley Car, 1914


'Tis merry leap year, so girls lend an ear...
We went for a stroll, just over the knoll,
      There, among blushing wild roses,
      I whispered to Joe, 'tis leap year, you know,
      The year when the lady proposes.
      Then, down on my knees, his hand I did squeeze...
So girls have a try if your lover be shy,
      Get off if you can in the leap year.
      Just practice my plan in the leap year.
~E. Darbyshire, "Leap Year," c.1885


      This pamphlet is published to show with what freedom, and even recklessness, people of past ages made changes in their calendars, and also to assist in preparing the public mind for the few slight changes which should and must be made in our present Gregorian form. With these slight changes made, we will have secured the most scientific, the most convenient, and absolutely the best time calendar the world has ever known. An organized effort is being made to secure the adoption by Congress and by the League of Nations of the new Liberty Calendar.
      Under this plan our present complicated and inconvenient arrangement can easily be made so simply and convenient that printed calendars would soon be unknown. Only three simple changes are required:
      First, make New Year Day an independent legal holiday. Have it fall between the last day of December and the first day of January. Do not include it in any week or month.
      Second, provide another independent legal holiday for Leap Year. Have it fall between the last day of one month and the first day of the next. Do not include it in any week or month.
      Third, divide the remaining 364 days into thirteen months of exactly four weeks each, making Monday the first day of every month and Saturday the last work day of every month.
      The name chosen for the new month is Liberty, which is placed next after February, so that in the new plan the months read—January, February, Liberty, March, etc. The independent legal holiday provided for Leap Year is termed "Correction Day." In order to retain exactly one seventh of the time for Sundays, each seventh New Year Day becomes New Year Sunday, and each seventh Leap Year Day becomes Leap Year Sunday. While making the change, Good Friday and Easter Sunday should be placed on certain fixed dates.
      The changes would cause scarcely a ripple in our business or social life. Six months' experience under this simplified form would make us wonder why we put up with the inconvenience of our present form so long. The advantages of this simplified calendar cannot be overestimated.
      ~Joseph U. Barnes, "The Liberty Calendar," published by the American Equal Month Calendar Association, 1918  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]



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