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Leap Year

February 28, 2020
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Saturday is "Leap Day." What are you going to do with your extra day this year? We will have 366 days instead of 365 days this year. Ancient Egyptians figured out that the solar year and the calendar year don't always match up, it takes the Earth a little longer to whirl around the ol' sun, 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact. What to do with that extra time? Add it to the calendar on the shortest month of the year every four years, known as the intercalary year or bissextile year.

The Romans solved the situation by designating Feb. 29 a Leap Day, but a more precise formula was adopted in the 6th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by 4.

I was always fascinated by those born on the 29th, they are known as "leaplings," they celebrate birthdays years on the day of or day after the 28th. Tradition has it that women can romantically pursue men that day. Beginning in the 5th century Ireland, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for a man to propose, he then set Feb. 29th aside as a day a woman can ask a man to marry her.

In 1288, Queen Margaret in Scotland (who was only 4 years old at the time) declared women had the right to propose to any man they fancied. Any man who refused was faced with a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves. Americans adopted it as Sadie Hawkins Day which we celebrate in November, and made famous by cartoonist Al Capp who advocated Sadie Hawkins Day in his "Li'l Abner" comic strip.

This year Mardi Gras was on Feb. 25 and Ash Wednesday on Feb. 26, the first day of Lent, which starts 8 weeks of penitence and fasting before Easter. Growing up, my Catholic friends gave up sweets, that was their sacrificial choice. It is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. Recognizing the Christians by their cross of ash on their forehead, I didn't realize until now that the ashes were from burnt palms used, dedicated and burned the year before.

Purple, green and gold, the colors of Mardi Gras, decorate everything Mardi Gras, thrown beads, king cakes, masks, costumes, all things celebratory. Fat Tuesday is when we feast before Ash Wednesday's abstinence, leading us to Easter. Lent is upon us. Ash Wednesday is always 6 1/2 weeks before Easter, so the preparation for Easter has begun. Time for the baby chicks and bunnies.

The cold weather is good for lettuce crops, but the unusually hot days cause them to bolt and sour.

We are having hot and cold, such unusual weather creates problems in the garden. We have an extra day this year to help us solve any gardening problems. It's ours with which to deal. The old expression, "make hay while the sun shines" will keep us perpetually busy. Cold weather will grind things to a halt. Hot and cold in the same week, let alone season gives us challenges. We are up for the challenge (no choice).

Hopefully the coronavirus goes away with the warmer weather or doesn't spread here. No one likes to be sick.

This weekend has been cooling to us, making the northerners jealous. One person's cool is another person's great day from freezing. It's all relative, and where you live.

Just remember to be kind to the trees, they are busy saving the world.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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