leap year

Letting Go And Leaping Forward

This New Year’s Eve we celebrate the end of not only another year, but another decade. The new year and new decade will also begin in a leap year!

A leap year is a year in which an extra day has been added to the end of February. In the Gregorian calendar, a year is normally 365 days. It takes the earth a little bit more than 365 days to revolve around the sun, so to keep the calendar year aligned with the seasonal or astronomical year, an extra day is added to the year every 4 years with some exceptions. (Any year that is exactly divisible by 4 is a leap year except if it is exactly divisible by 100 but not 400.)

So what is actually being leaped in a leap year? In the Gregorian calendar, a fixed date advances one day of the week year by year. So if March 1st falls on Monday one year then it will fall on Tuesday the next year, Wednesday the next and so on. When a leap year happens, this progression changes after February 29 and all fixed dates advance or leap a day. So if March 1st was going to fall on a Thursday the next year it will actually fall on a Friday if it’s a leap year. This happens all the way to the end of the next February when the daily progressions return to normal – until the next leap year.

The extra day that is added to a leap year is February 29. In numerology, the number 29 reduces to 11 (2+9) and then to 2 (1+1). February is also the 2nd month of the year so the number 2 is very important in a leap year. The two major arcana tarot cards that represent the numbers 11 and 2 are Justice which is card number 11 and the High Priestess which is card number 2.

image from the dracula tarot

Justice stands for balance, cause and effect, clarity, equality, fairness, impartiality, intellect, judgement, logic and truth. The Justice card aptly symbolises the leap year’s correction of the yearly imbalances the Gregorian calendar produces.

The High Priestess represents our descent into the unconscious mind, the land of dreams, visions, and hidden realms. The secret and magical world of the High Priestess may be reflected in the numerous myths and traditions that are associated with leap years. Part of that magic for me is knowing the legendary Bram Stoker died in a leap year!

To pay tribute not only to the upcoming leap year but also the end of the decade, I created the Let Go and Leap Forward tarot card spread which connects these two important events. It is based on the The Wheel of Fortune, which is card number 10 in the major arcana. The Wheel of Fortune is the card of destiny and explores the past, present and future. It symbolises our inability to control fate, no matter how hard we may try. It is a powerful card to work with when celebrating cycles of 10 such as the end of a decade.

Fortune

image from the dracula tarot

 

Let Go and Leap Forward Spread
This tarot spread uses only the 22 major arcana cards.
It will be in the form of two circles, one dealt anticlockwise and the other clockwise.

The Outgoing Decade
Shuffle the cards.
Deal 10 cards face down in an anticlockwise direction to form a circle.
These cards represent the themes that were significant to you in the outgoing decade. They provide insight into what successfully brought you to the turn of the decade.
Turn them over one at a time in an anticlockwise order. As you turn over each card reflect on its meaning, identify how it contributed to your last decade and whether it should be let go or will help you leap forward.
Once the 10 cards have been revealed, reflect on the themes that have become apparent and allow the understanding of how the past influences have positioned you for the future to sink in.

The Incoming Decade
Deal the next 10 cards face down in clockwise order, covering the first 10 cards.
These cards represent the influences that will become more significant over the coming decade.
Turn them over one at a time in clockwise order. As you turn over each card, reflect on its meaning and consider how it can assist you to leap forward.
Once the 10 cards have been revealed, reflect on the themes that have become apparent and allow the understanding of things that need to (or will) come into your life and/or be nurtured within it to settle within your mind.

The Leap Year Gifts
You have two cards remaining. These are only used when the start of the decade is a leap year. They signify the extra boost that the leap year gives.
Deal them face up side by side in the centre of the circle.
Consider the meaning of the cards and how they can help you move forward quickly.

Leap Year Recipe – Frog In A Pond
To celebrate leaping into the new year I made an adult version of an Australian childhood favourite. Frog In A Pond is a green gelatine dessert decorated with frog shaped chocolates. My version is a cross between the original childhood treat and an alcoholic jello shot – just perfect to ring in a new year and new decade!

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Ingredients
3 leaflets of gelatine
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup Midori or other green liqueur
2 chocolate frogs

Instructions
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.
Squeeze gelatine to remove excess liquid then place in a saucepan over a gentle heat.
Stirring once or twice, allow gelatine to melt.
Remove from heat.
Stir in the water and Midori.
Pour into two cocktail cups.
Place a chocolate frog into each glass.
Refrigerate until set.
If you want your frog to float on the surface, refrigerate until partially set, then add the frog. You can push it in as far as you like or just let it sit there.

Leaping Days

2016 is a leap year, which means an extra day has been added to February. The Gregorian calendar used in the western world is a solar calendar and marks the position of the earth in relation to the sun. In the Gregorian calendar, a year is 365 days. As it takes the earth a little bit more than 365 days to revolve around the sun, an extra day is added to the year every 4 years. So any year that is evenly divisible by 4 is a leap year. But even this adjustment isn’t accurate enough. So any century year (a year that ends in 00) that is evenly divisible by 100 and 400 is a leap year. If they are evenly divisible by 100 but not 400 then they are not leap years. To make things interesting, cultures that use a lunisolar calendar (which marks moon phases as well as solar ones) add a leap month to their year – but not every 4 years.

So why the name “leap year”? What is actually being leaped? In the Gregorian calendar a fixed date advances one day of the week year by year. So if April Fool’s day falls on Monday one year then it will fall on Tuesday the next year, Wednesday the next and so on. When a leap year happens, this progression changes after February 29 and all fixed dates advance or leap a day. So if April Fool’s day was going to fall on a Thursday the next year it will actually fall on a Friday if it’s a leap year. This happens all the way to the end of  the next February when the daily progressions turn to normal – until the next leap year 🙂

One of the most common folklores for February 29 is that women can ask men to marry them. While there are many stories as to how and why this tradition came about, there are no definitive answers. One legend suggests that women who were planning to propose were supposed to wear a red skirt, presumedly to warn their beloved of an imminent proposal. Men who said no to the proposal would have to pay a fine to the woman. The fines ranged from a kiss, buying her enough material to make a dress, buying her a pair of gloves or buying her 12 pairs of gloves. The gloves were probably to cover her naked ring finger.

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Thinking about lady fingers naturally drew me to food, as to me a lady finger is either okra, a small banana, a cylindrical filo pastry or a sponge finger biscuit. As I continued on my culinary musings I wanted to pay tribute to the current leap year by creating a Lady Finger recipe using sponge finger biscuits. Tiramisu came to mind. But as my partner hates coffee based desserts, I decided to make a green tea version using both green tea leaves and matcha (powdered green tea).

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So let’s all raise our ringed and un-ringed Lady Fingers to the 2016 leap year!

Green Tea Tiramisu

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Ingredients
4 teaspoons green tea leaves
2 cups almost boiling water
3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2 teaspoons plum wine
250g mascarpone
50ml whipping cream
2 teaspoons matcha
200g ladyfingers
Extra matcha for dusting

Method
Combine tea and water and brew for 3 minutes. Strain and allow to cool.
Beat egg yolks, sugar and plum wine until light and creamy.
In a separate bowl beat mascarpone and cream until smooth and creamy. Do not overwork.
Slowly add the matcha and gently mix to combine. You can control the strength of the green tea flavour by adding less or more matcha so taste as you go.
Fold mascarpone mixture into egg yolk mixture until combined.
Pour brewed green tea into a shallow dish. Dip a lady finger biscuit into the tea, long enough to soften but not too long or they will go soggy.
Arrange half the soaked biscuits in a large serving dish or individual dishes. Cover with half the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers.
Dust generously with extra matcha.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.