This Leap Year and Leap Day Prayer celebrates the day by asking God to help us realign ourselves with his timing for our lives just as Leap Day realigns the calendar with the solar year.
Leap Year and Leap Day Prayer
Today as we add an extra day to the calendar on Leap Day to realign our lives to the rhythms of time you established in the solar year, help us to see the corrections we need to personally make to realign ourselves with you.
We recall how in-tune Jesus was to your timeline for his life as he repeatedly told his disciples, “My time has not yet come.”
Reveal to us today the miscalculations we have made in your timing for our lives.
Show us where we have hesitated too long and not acted quickly enough.
Open our eyes to the times we have jumped into action before waiting for your direction.
Help us keep in mind how even small deviations can add up over time to put us completely out of sync with your plan for our lives.
On Leap Day and Leap Year, help us leap forward by depending on You daily for guidance and help.
About this Leap Day and Leap Year Prayer
It’s fitting to use Leap Day as a time of prayer and reflection because Leap Day was adjusted by the Christian Church to keep Easter aligned with the season.
How Leap Year Began
Early on, the Church decided that Easter would be celebrated yearly on the first Sunday on or after the spring equinox. The date of the spring equinox is March 21. The equinox means that the day and night are of equal length, which is determined by the solar year.
The calendar is set at 365 days. However, the solar year is actually longer than that. It is actually 365.2422 days long.
The first 365 day calendar was called the Julian calendar, created in 46 BC. It realized this small difference, so it was set up to add a leap day every fourth year. Over centuries, the small discrepancy of time added up until in the 1500’s Easter had shifted in the Northern hemisphere. The calendar date of March 21st was coming 10 whole days earlier than the solar equinox.
Pope Gregory and his council met to find a way to correct this problem. They decided that every year that could be divided by 4 would be a leap year. However, any year that could be divided by 100 also had to be divisible by 4. As an example, 2000 was a leap year, but 1900 wasn’t.
They named it the Gregorian Calendar. In order to straighten things out, in 1582 they had to jump the date forward 10 days! That year, Thursday, October 4 was noted on the Julian calendar and then the next day became Friday, Oct. 15 on the Gregorian calendar!
As an interesting side note, the Eastern Orthodox Church continues to celebrate Easter according to the Julian Calendar. As an example, in 2024, Orthodox Easter is May 5. The rest of the Christian world celebrated Easter is on March 31.
It’s also interesting to note that although this new calendar was set by the Church, it was not adopted as the civil calendar in different countries right away. Here are some examples. The Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy officially adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. Great Britain and Ireland adopted it in 1752. Greece didn’t adopt it until 1923. And Saudi Arabia adopted it in 2016!
Leap Year Legends
You may have heard the popular Leap Day legend that it’s traditionally a day that women can the propose marriage to men. This is based on an Irish legend that says St. Brigid got permission from St. Patrick for women to propose to men during Leap Year. Some say this was a way to even out the usual social roles of men and women the same way Leap Day evens out the dates on the calendar.
I researched St. Brigid and there is very little verifiable historical sources that can tell us about her life. Legends say she lived in Ireland in 451 and died around 525 and may have started a convent. There’s no mention of the Leap Day story in the legends about her. In fact, recorded legends say she adamantly rejected marriage proposals and lived her life as a chaste nun.
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