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 Research Papers

Today is:


Leap Year

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Gregorian calendar - currently in use worldwide (except perhaps the Russian and Iran)
    Leap year every year divisible by four
        Except years which are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.
            2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not.
The extra rule involving centuries is an additional correction to make up for the fact that one extra day every four years is slightly too much correction (0.25>0.242190). This scheme results in the vernal equinox gradually shifting its date between March 19 and 21, being shifted once every leap year, and then being abruptly shifted in non-leap centuries (see figure above).

The leap year was introduced in the Julian calendar in 46 BC. However, around 10 BC, it was found that the priests in charge of computing the calendar had been adding leap years every three years instead of the four decreed by Caesar (Vardi 1991, p. 239). As a result of this error, no more leap years were added until 8 AD. Leap years were therefore 45 BC, 42 BC, 39 BC, 36 BC, 33 BC, 30 BC, 27 BC, 24 BC, 21 BC, 18 BC, 15 BC, 12 BC, 9 BC, 8 AD, 12 AD, and every fourth year thereafter (Tøndering), until the Gregorian calendar was introduced (resulting in skipping three out of every four centuries). The UNIX command cal incorrectly lists 4 AD as a leap year (Vardi 1991).

Traditions & Customs

Irish legend or history – In 5th century St Bridget made a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men; possibly introduced to balance traditional roles of men and women like leap year balances the calendar.

Scotland legend or history – Queen Margaret brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down proposals by women in a leap year. Sceptics pointed out she was 5 years old and living in Norway at that time

“Bachelor’s Day” – Man was expected to pay a penalty if he refused a woman’s marriage proposal on Leap Day. This could be a gown or money.

In European countries, esp. upper class, if a man refused a proposal he had to buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves so she could hide the fact that there was no engagement ring on her finger.

Also called St Oswald’s Day in memory of the Archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992

On February 29, 1692 the first warrants were issued for the Salem witch trials.

The chance of being born on Feb. 29 is about 1,461 to 1.

A person born on Feb. 29 is referred to as a “leapling” or “leaper”

Leap Year 1888

Midway Hotel had an informal opening on Feb. 18 and a formal opening Feb. 22, followed by a leap year party on Feb. 24 “given by the young ladies of Kearney. They were the first of many elaborate social functions, described in detail by Maud Marston, society editor of the Enterprise.”
                                                              “Hotels of Kearney, Part I, by Margaret Stines Nielsen, Buffalo Tales, September 1987

HUB - Leap Year

December 4, 1890
                                                                    The Ladies were Galiant
The young people belonging to the Good Templars lodge are known for their sociability, and when they engineer a social gathering it usually furnishes a good time for those who attend. Such was the case last evening at the residence of W. C. Holden. Although this isn’t leap year, the arrangements for the social were somewhat on that order. The ladies invited the gentlemen to supper and promptly paid for the same. The usual amusements were indulged in and a pleasant evening was the result.

January 7, 1892
                                                                         Leap Year Party
Invitations are out announcing the fact that the young ladies of this city will give a leap year party Tuesday evening at the Midway. The young gentlemen who[have] been favored with this invitation are on the tiptoe of expectancy but will remain at home on that evening unless called for you may be sure.

January 9, 1892
The HUB establishment is proof against the dangers of leap year. Every male of marriageable age is already provided with a wife, and there are about a round dozen of them.

January 11, 1892
--Great preparations are being made for the leap year party tomorrow evening at the Midway hotel.

January 13, 1892
                                                                  A MEMORABLE OCCASION
                                                     Leap Year Party at the Midway Hotel Last Night
                                                             An Occasion Long to be Remembered
--A Few Original Suggestions Given the Gentlemen
--Magnificent Floral Decorations
Leap Year parties are invariably a success. There is a particular attractiveness to the very announcement of such an event that increases in interest and finally culminates in the occasion itself. To the uninitiated the appearance of so many covered carriages on the streets last night would not have been attended with any particular significance; the intelligence that these conveyances enclosed so many ladies who for once in four years were improving the opportunity of doing gentlemen’s honors, would at once change an everyday experience to a novelty. For once, perhaps the first time, the ladies took the gentlemen’s places and the gentlemen were forced whether or no to accept the situation gracefully or with as much grace as possible.

Safely ensconced in his carriage and carefully covered up with buffalo robes by his dutiful escort the gentleman in his new role was at once taken to the Midway hotel and shown to a dressing room. As a substitute for corsage or hair decoration his lady presented him with a button-hole bouquet consisting of a beautiful tea rose or carnation pink with smilax.

The ladies showed a marked degree of attention throughout the evening and in many instances outdid the gentlemen in their thoughtfulness.


Entering a spacious dance hall the gentlemen were ushered to seats where the draft would not strike them while the ladies with fan in hand stood over them and made flattering remarks about the elegant costumes or gushingly remarked on their beautiful appearance. The gentlemen in turn smiles, became hysterical, and hid their blushes behind the capacious lapels of their conventional clawhammers.

The dance programs were very unique of design and represented an ivy leaf in relief running over the cover. Within were the names of the patrons, Messrs Juan Boyle, E. C. Caulkins, R. L. Downing and W. B. Vance. On the opposite page neatly printed, were sixteen dance numbers, and the back contained the names of the floor committee, Miss Laura Finch, Miss Mary Keck, Miss Jennie Maxwell, and Miss Belle Early.

The music was furnished by an orchestra of entirely home talent, Fred Cooper, violin; Mrs. McKeough, piano; Theo. Miller, cornet; and Mr. Schillo, clarinet, and placed near the east end of the hall, to accommodate parties wishing to dance in the parlors where the floor had been crashed.[?] Tables for card playing were also furnished in the upper hallways.

Forty-four couples were invited to partake of a most sumptuous repast served in the ladies ordinary. The tables besides being loaded down with the most delicious dainties beautifully trimmed with cut flowers and smilax.

The occasion besides being a most enjoyable one will be one to be long remembered for its uniqueness, its novelty, its suggestiveness.

Monday, February 29, 1892 – no Hub

Tuesday, March 1, 1892
Dancing party that evening at the opera house, large room on 5th floor
    Adjoining room was reception room and card room for those who wanted to play whist
Hosted by two Kearney society couples
50 couples attended
Many ladies in formal evening dress [means men did not wear tux’s]
Music by the Midway orchestra.
Buffet catered in ball room late in the evening

Leap year surprise party given at a home in honor of one of the daughters. Dancing, visiting, card playing until 11 when a supper was served. Those attending included the honoree and 7 other girls, 8 boys, and others [chaperones??]

July 19, 1892
--This is leap year. Girls, set the boys a good example by inviting them to partake of a delicious ice cream to be served at the Baptist church lawn Wednesday evening.

December 22, 1892
--The social event of the season will be given at the Midway hotel Saturday evening in the nature of a grand leap year ball. Invitations are now out, and the dressmakers and tailors are busy.

December 31, 1892
                                                                     Closing Leap Year Party
This evening a few young people will meet at the home of Miss Emma Lindgren, on third avenue and go to the lake the old year out and the new year in. As soon as 1893 is firmly established and old Father Time has given the glass another turn, the party will return to Miss Lindgren’s and have refreshments. From all indications at present it will be a very pleasant time.

Wednesday, February 26, 1896
                                                                          “Death on a Train
Morris Newberg, a young gentleman apparently between twenty-five and thirty years of age, died suddenly on the fast mail at Elm Creek at 11:45 this morning. Deceased was a victim of consumption. He was traveling alone from Denver to Winona, Wisconsin. There was found on his person $10.85 in money and a silver watch and chain. Undertaker Costello was telegraphed from Elm Creek to meet the remains upon their arrival in Kearney. Mr. Costello took charge of the remains and will await further orders from the Union Pacific before burial.”


March 2, 1896 - Undertaker Costello is still in ignorance of what he is to do with the remains of Morris Newberg.

[Newberg was buried March 4 in the Kearney cemetery]


Saturday, February 29, 1896
Sparagus Kidney Pills -  A patent medicine prescribed by doctors for kidney and urinary tract troubles.
    Extract of asparagus
    Extract of buchu – native bush of South Africa, leaves dried and used for urinary, kidney, & prostate disorders.

A diuretic. Aromatic – also used in perfumes & to flavor wines and brandies.

    Extract of pareira brava – A woody climbing vine from Brazil, yields a petroleum-ether [oily] extract used for kidney

         stimulation and urinary tract irritation, diuretic
    Extract of juniper berries – diuretic. Gin was developed in the Netherlands in 1600’s intended to be a medication.

         Besides being a diuretic, the berries were thought to be appetite stimulant and remedy for rheumatism and

         arthritis. Name “gin” comes from French (genièvre) & Dutch (jenever) words for juniper
    Extract of Uva Ural – a bush with leaves which are a weak diuretic
    Extract of corn silk – a diuretic, used for treatment of inflamed urinary tract

Monday, March 2, 1896

William Woodburn of Shelton was summoned for jury duty. He had lived in Shelton for nearly four years and this was the first time he had been to Kearney.

“Parties arrested about a week ago for contempt of court were arraigned in district court today and were released on condition that they remove the building which they were enjoined from moving to its former location by Saturday night.”

June 9, 1896 – Leap Year picnic was enjoyed by about 40 of Kearney’s young people. The ladies furnished the rigs for transportation to the picnic grounds at Eagle’s Grove on the Wood River. They also furnished hammocks and two cases of ginger ale. The gentlemen arranged for the lunch.

[1900 – no Feb 29]

February 12, 1903 – Ladies gave a Valentine’s dance at the Armory. It was a leap year event in that the girls controlled everything. Although it is difficult to decorate the Armory they put red shades on the lamps and arranged one corner with rugs and soft pillows. Pillows also decorated the front of the stage. One of the rules of the event was that among the married couples, each lady would bring someone else’s husband. On the first time through the hall for the grand march, each lady received a pink carnation which she then presented to her partner for a boutonierrre

January 23, 1904
                                                                LADIES GIVE BOWLING PARTY
                                                  Entertained Friends Most Royally on Friday Evening
A number of young ladies of the city entertained their gentlemen friends last evening at a leap year bowling party given at the Miller alleys.

The party passed the evening most pleasantly while playing ten pins and four back being divided into teams as follows: Misses Everson, Switz and Parrish, and Messrs Brown, Downing, Sinclair, and Douglas. The opposing team consisted of Misses Wilkes, Hoover, Sylvia Yensen and Ruth Black, and Messrs Hollingsworth, Bessie, and Robinson.

The former team was successful in all three games played, the first two being ten pins and the last, four back.

After the bowling the party proceeded to the Holt café, where the tables had been previously decorated by the young ladies and had been most artistically arranged and partook of a delicious supper.

April 6, 1904
                                                         YOUNG LADIES ENTERTAIN
                                             Give Leap Year Ball at Midway Tuesday Evening
The most unique and enjoyable dance which has been given in this city for some time was held at the Midway dancing parlor Tuesday evening as a compliment from the young ladies to the young gentlemen of the city.

The hall had been made more cheerful and cozy by the prolific use of fancy sofa pillows, etc. During the evening ices were served by Hager.

The programs used were probably the most unique which had ever been used in this city, having been arranged by the young ladies and represented the various occurrences in life from the time of seeing each other until after marriage.

Music was furnished by Bettenger’s orchestra and was unusually good.

October 17, 1904
Gibbon - The young ladies gave a leap year dance t the opera house Friday night. Hobart Swan of Kearney furnished the music.

November 21, 1904
Miller - The Leap year party at the residence of C. M. Houston Wednesday evening was a great success.


January 31, 1908

Ladies of Elks members were planning a Leap Year party for Valentine’s Day. This was to be “one of the swellest affairs of its kind that Kearney has ever witnessed.”

March 20, 1908

Normal School girls gave a leap year dance.

December 2, 1908

Necktie Social held by United Brethren Church youth. Boys were to bring two neckties, one to wear and one to place in an envelope. The girls paid for the envelopes to determine who would be their supper partner. The boys had to pay for the meal.

February 19, 1932

Leap Year dance in Pleasanton

May 15, 1936
Recommendation by a HUB columnist that girls make strawberry jelly or jam (recipes included) and then invite the young man to a breakfast of strawberry jelly on toast or biscuits and strawberry jam, or to a supper featuring strawberry jam or pudding or strawberry tarts. “after that it is up to you.”

January 1937 - Marriage licenses: 1936 – 259; 1937 – 204; 1938 – 192; 1939 – 182

                        [Was this the effect of Leap Year or  deepening Depression?]

January 6, 1940

Hub Spokes - “heard on the street: being a bachelor in leap year, I know how a turkey feels before Thanksgiving.”

A young lady working at the court house said she had already made her marriage proposal and been accepted. She proposed on New Year’s Day.

March 1, 1944 – Sadie Hawkins Day party at the USO on Tuesday, [Feb 29th] attended by 200 service men, junior hostesses in costume, and chaperones. The American Legion and Project club of Gibbon served sandwiches, pie, and coffee at the close of the evening. They also awarded two free telephone calls to soldiers who used them to call their mothers. A Private whose birthday was on Feb. 29th received a birthday cake.

March 1, 1952 – PEO party where the ladies entertained their husbands at the Crystal Room at the Ft. Kearney Hotel. Table centerpieces were red carnations and miniature figures of men dangling from fish hooks. Men provided the entertainment with music, slight of hand, and a variation of “Twenty Questions”.

March 1952 – A Kearney boy and a Sumner boy were honored at their 3rd birthdays at two different parties. Each had 12 candles on his cake. In 1932 a Kearney boy celebrated his first birthday. (He was 4)

March 8, 1952 – KSTC had a leap year dance. Music was provided by Roland Morris and his all-girl band.

Hub – Sadie Hawkins Day

November 14, 1940 – Friday, Nov. 15 was designated Sadie Hawkins Day at the Teachers college. Girls escorted boys to the Pi Kappa Delta dance. Prizes for the best costume of a character from Al Capp’s Little Abner comic strip

November 23, 1946 – Sadie Hawkins Day lasted all week at the Teachers College culminating with a dance on Friday night.

October 19, 1948 – Plans were being made for the annual Sadie Hawkins Day dance scheduled on Nov. 12.

November 18, 1948 – The freshman class at the junior high also had a Sadie Hawkins Day dance.

November 3, 1950 – The annual Sadie Hawkins Day dance at KSTC included a beard growing contest.


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