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The Cosmopolitan Review

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 2/6/2014, 2:13 a.m.

It was the Romans who first designated Feb. 29 as leap day. Later, a more precise formula was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four. Every year that is evenly divisible by four is a leap year, except for century years (1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2100, etc.).

Now that you are thoroughly confused, here is the Romanized version of what leap year means. Dating back to the time when only the man could make a proposal of marriage, the leap year has been the traditional time when women can propose marriage. It is believed this tradition was started in the fifth century in Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. A law once existed in Scotland forbidding a man to refuse a proposal made to him on Feb. 29. The punishment for such an offense was a large fine.

Today, in many instances, this may still be the case, where a woman waits endlessly for her longtime beau to propose marriage. Fortunately, today’s society doesn’t frown upon such a practice if a woman were to propose and it wasn’t leap year. So it’s OK, girls, to pop the question. However, it might mean you have to buy your own ring.

According to English law, Feb. 29 was ignored and had no legal bearing. So a crime committed on that day was no crime at all. Well, that definitely is not the case today, so for all of you thugs out there who were making plans for a heist, forget about it.

Then there is also a Greek superstition that claims couples have bad luck if they marry during a leap year. Apparently, one in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid planning their wedding during a leap year. There you have it, leap year defined in all its glory.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! Another tradition, another legend. The New Year is usually celebrated by wearing something red for good luck, firing fireworks and eating Peking duck.

We visited our favorite Chinese restaurant, Hunan Balcony on West 97th Street, to celebrate the occasion. While the duck dish is tasty and fun, because they ring the gong every time it is served, we opted for the chicken with broccoli, egg rolls and cold sesame noodles instead; it was just as good, except there was no gong.

The Chinese assign a different animal, accordingly with its different element every year, in a 12-year cycle. This year, we are in the year of the horse. According to “The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes,” the horse is self-centered by nature and wants things done his way. “Performance and success-oriented, he always has his sights set on some target ... With his remarkable powers of persuasion, he will set out to sway people to his way of thinking. Snapping his fingers and clicking his heels, this trailblazer could talk you into anything once he begins to dish out the charm. People find it hard to resist his positive and self-assured outlook on life.”

So take a note from the wise, whether that’s Confucius or a fortune cookie, be patient and enjoy the year.

Until next week … kisses