"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.
Wavescan, February 26, 2012
Leap Year Day
Next Wednesday, February 29, is Leap Year Day. The reason for adding another day into this month, usually every four years, is to keep the year synchronized with the seasons. This procedure, periodically inserting an extra day at the end of the month of February, was introduced in the year 1582 by Pope Gregory, and this calendar system is designated as the Gregorian Calendar.
Although there are many other calendars in use in various cultures around our world, yet the Gregorian Calendar has become the recognized international standard for dates and years. However, even though it was not in use before the year 1582, yet it has been theoretically extended backwards into history in order to correctly interpret dates and events throughout known history.
Among the various cultures around the world that operate under different calendar systems, we could mention for example, the Hindus of India. They will periodically insert another month, a Leap Month if you please, into a particular year in order to bring the months into a closer synchronization with the seasons. Likewise, the Moslem and Jewish calendars will also periodically incorporate an additional month into their year.
At times, as we have become aware in recent years, a Leap Second has been inserted into the final minute of some years due to the fact that it seems that the rotation of the earth is slowly slowing down, quite minutely.
In a similar vein, two island groups in the Pacific changed their recognition of days and dates at the time of our recent New Year 2012. These two countries, Samoa and Tokelau, dropped out Friday, December 30 in order to align their calendars with two of their major trading partners, Australia and New Zealand.
Children who are born on a Leap Year Day, February 29, theoretically can celebrate their birthday only every fourth year, though in fact they can choose either February 28 or March 1 in non-Leap Years. Among the old traditional customs associated with Leap Year Day, it is said that a girl can reverse the usual procedure and make a marriage proposal to the man of her choice.