CULTURE WATCH : Is It a Day Off or an Off Day?


Notice anything unusual about this year? No, not the presidential campaign and elections. . . . There’s an extra day, 366 instead of the usual 365. 1992 is a Leap Year.

“Leap days” are added every four years to bring the calendar in line with Earth’s orbit around the sun, which takes about 365 1/4 days.

Without leap days, it could get so out of sync that at some point we would be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer.


One of the oldest traditions of Leap Year Day “allows” women to propose marriage on this day. In the Middle Ages, this “privilege” was often extended to the entire year and was even written into law. Now, we have Sadie Hawkins Day.

Another notable Leap Year Day occurrence will be the celebration on Saturday of all the Feb. 29 birthdays. What happens when your birthday comes around only once every four years? While this might seem disastrous to a child, someone a bit, ahem, older may find it advantageous. For example, a person born on Feb. 29, 1924, will celebrate--finally--a 17th birthday this year.

But the real birthday loser this month is the Old Testament’s Job, whose birthday, Feb. 30, won’t be found on any calendar.

According to African-American folklore, Job, in cursing the day he was born, prayed to have the day removed from the calendar: “Let the day perish wherein I was born. . . .” (Job 3:3); his prayer was answered.

Don’t forget to check your calendar watches.