LEAP-YEAR (more properly known as bissextile), the name given to the year containing 366 days. The astronomers of Julius Caesar, 46 B.C., settled the solar year at 365 days 6 hours. These hours were set aside and at the end of four years made a day which was added to the fourth year. The English name for the bissextile year is an allusion to the result of the interposition of the extra day; for after the zgth of February a date " leaps over " the day of the week on which it would fall in ordinary years. Thus a birthday on the loth of June, a Monday, will in the next year, if a leap-year, be on the loth of June, 'a Wednesday. Of the origin of the custom for women to woo, not be wooed, during leap-year no satisfactory explanation has ever been offered. In 1 288 a law was enacted in Scotland that " it is statut and ordaint that during the rein of hir maist blissit Megeste, for ilk yeare knowne as lepe yeare, ilk mayden ladye of bothe highe and lowe estait shall hae liberte to bespeke ye man she likes, albeit he refuses to taik hir to be his lawful wyfe, he shall be mulcted in ye sum ane pundis or less, as his estait may be; except and awis gif he can make it appeare that he is betrothit ane ither woman he then shall be free." A few years later a like law was passed in France, and in the 15th century the custom was legalized in Genoa and Florence.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)