The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Let's Talk Retirement: Why Leap Year is Practice for Retirement!




Last week I had three people remind me that 2024 is a Leap Year. Since it hadn’t occurred in quite some time (sort of like the cicadas), I decided to do some research. I know Leap Year happens every four years, but why?

Here’s the answer:

Leap Year exists because of the time it takes the earth

  • to orbit the Sun. There are 365 days in most calendar years,
  • but in the time it takes for the Earth to go around the sun once,
  • our planet actually spins 365 and nearly a quarter times! The reason we care about that extra quarter is because the earth
  • has seasons, and the farmers need consistency to know
  • when to plant and harvest.

You’re welcome for the history lesson! Now, what does that mean to you in 2024? It means that this is the year you get a ‘Once-Every-Four- Years’ Gift Certificate for an extra day. How will you spend it?

As you read, the farmers understood the importance of planning ahead. They knew that if the calendar didn't match with the seasons, they would have a more difficult time growing crops and that could affect the food supply. Well, if you don’t plan for the non-financial road ahead, you just might have a more difficult time adjusting to retirement, which could certainly affect you and your relationships!

As I researched more, I came across a few interesting customs linked to Leap Year. First, people born on February 29th are called ‘Leaplings,’ and the chance of being born a Leapling is about 1-in-1,461. (Do you know anyone?)

Another custom is that February 29th is often associated with romance and marriage. In 5th century Ireland, St. Patrick made it the only day on which women could propose to men. And… if a man rejects the proposal, he owes her a debt of several pairs of gloves – to hide the fact that she did not get to wear an engagement ring!

(By the way regarding that other periodic happening, unlike Leap Year and its gift of a free day, the arrival of the cicadas doesn’t give us anything except a headache! They spend most of their lives underground emerging every 13 or 17 years* emitting a loud annoying noise that makes us stay in our homes. Small comfort that they can aerate lawns and improve water filtration in the ground.)

Leap Day this February 29th is on a Thursday. I understand many of you will be going to work or fulfilling your other regular activities and responsibilities. Others may think you’d rather be spontaneous and not structured. The planning I’m suggesting you can use in every situation every day and will really be important in retirement.

Here are a few ideas:

  • How about promising yourself a day to eliminate the negative self-talk. Remember the Cherokee legend that in each of us lives two wolves fighting for attention. One is anger, envy and greed, and the other is hope, happiness and kindness. When a young boy asked his grandpa, “Who wins?’ the grandpa answers “Whichever one you feed.”  
  • Devote your day to doing something for the greater good. Spend it volunteering for a charity or by visiting with a neighbor who has the winter blues. Make it a day when you make a difference in someone’s life.
  • Calling old friends and sharing memories can be a great way to enjoy your day and reconnect. Make new friends but keep the old – one is silver and the other is gold.
  • Use February 29th as the day you start going out of your way to do less sitting and more moving. No bingeing on a Netflix series; just turn on the music and take Mark Twain’s advice to have fun as you “…dance like nobody’s watching!”

Those are a few thoughts! Happy Leap Year and let me know how you are spending that day!


*I found that the cicadas are due in Tennessee this year in mid-May!

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