Leap year myths – medical and otherwise……

Leap year is a phenomenon that started with the Gregorian calendar and it comes once in four years. But in Indian Saka calendar one has to add 78 years to get to the next leap year and the fun is 2020 is a leap year in both the calendars. So that’s amazing as well!

We all know, that this adding of an extra day to the calendar – we call as a “Leap Year”, and the last one was in 2016!

It was the Roman king, Julius Caesar who introduced the extra day in 45 B.C. to simplify the calendar, and make up for that additional revolution of the planet. However, the rare and mysterious occurrence brought with itself many superstitions that continue to survive, even to this day!!!!!

Among these superstitions and strange notions include the refusal to make any significant changes in life such as starting a new venture, getting married or having a baby. The Philippines’ leading health institute called The Makati Medical Centre, even sent out flyers and wrote blogs on some of these popular but baseless myths.
Here, in our blog we too are trying to debunk the most popular and strange leap year myths that are known today.

  • Unhealthy children are born during leap year / Genius children are born in leap year

Both of these are myths as children being healthy or unhealthy , genius or average are all dependent on their genes. Children born during a leap year are no different from those born in any other year and it is unscientific to think otherwise. Many parents believe that children conceived during a leap year will be over achievers , but again that is a myth.

But first things first. What exactly is a leap year? Many of us do not know that ……The earth revolves around the sun for 365.24 days. To take the extra hours into account, people used to observe a 355-day calendar with an extra month every two years. When Julius Caesar came into power, he ordered this system simplified to a 365-day year with an extra day every four years.

But, as the chances of being born on the leap day itself are odd , therefore  those born on February 29thare referred to as “LEAPERS” OR “LEAPLINGS.”

  • It is unlucky /lucky to be born on a leap day

Well, it is as you believe, luck or bad luck are just relative phenomenon, and most businesses celebrate it as a day to offer a promotional trip or discounts.

Statistics show that trips are taken, jobs are changed and businesses flourish even during a leap day, so why should one turn down a great offer – like a fantastic new job, or even marriage alliance just for a change in date!

  • Get a gold tooth implant on the leap day – to get good luck for life !

Dentists will be very pleased to hear this myth as they will get many requests for gold tooth implants. It is surely a lucky day for the dentists, can’t say about the patients though! Luck has to do with hard work and focus and not just good or bad omens.

  • One must not have surgeries scheduled on 29 th Feb or the leap day, as they may go wrong

Take a minute to check in with any hospital emergency room and you will see, life is going on just as usual even on a leap day. So if you need a surgery, leap day or not ; just go for it!

According to an old Scottish phrase, “Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year!” The superstition that Leap Days are particularly lucky or unlucky has been debated through history and across cultures, and there’s still no clear winner. It is just your belief that changes a lucky day into an unlucky day and viceversa.

  • Many in South and eastern India, believe that we must do “Daanam” or charity on this day to ward off any evil effect of the leap year! Hey! Charity is good on any given day, leap year or not . Remember what they taught you in school- Sharing is caring !
  • Another myth is to not bring any new changes in the leap year –

Change is not good. It seems that everything from a simple personal makeover to starting up a business is taboo for this year. The internet is full of superstitious articles and blogs asking you to not begin anything new in a leap year. It is just a myth and absolutely baseless. For some reason, people are convinced that the leap year is entirely unsuitable for new beginnings. According to Dr. Rene M. Samaniego , who is a psychiatrist the reason for this is that , “….the leap year is not a routine thing and is something different , so people try to make it even more different by tagging it as lucky or unlucky . Psychologically , most people are afraid of anything ‘supernatural’ or “different” from what they’re used to, so superstitions like these are created, to subdue their own fears.”

  • There are more deaths in the leap year is another very powerful myth

Mortality goes up for the simple reason as there is one day extra!!!!! The leap year drives the belief that the mortality rate increases around the world, yet official statistics show that the number of people born or dying  in a leap year remain in the standard average and we have yet to get sufficient data to prove this myth!

No weddings, new businesses or babies in a leap year is an absolute myth.

Infact, one can contrast this to the old tradition of women proposing on leap day in Ireland. It is said that, St. Patrick gave women a day in a leap year to ask the men for marriage – and this fell on the last day of the shortest month. So many young couples propose to each other on this day!

  • Another regrettable myth in South east Asia is that it is unlucky for old people to celebrate their birthday in a leap year and could lead to their deaths!

Older people shouldn’t celebrate their birthdays in a leap year is a sad myth apart from being terribly unfair to them, everyone deserves to have fun on their big day!Dr.Samaniego, of Philippines Institute says that “Telling our grandparents about this could actually affect them more, and cause them to be nervous and expect the worse. We shouldn’t give them unnecessary anxiety and cause them to get nervous and become unwell.”

Leap year is just another extra day in our lives to do all the things we love and are grateful for. This is not a day to become superstitious or avoid living our lives the way we want to!So, go out there enjoy your life, let not any myths and false beliefs hinder the way you live- be happy, be healthy always – even on leap days!