Every four years, we have an additional day in our calendar. This day is February 29th, also called Leap Day. To understand it, the extra 24 hours are added in the calendar to make sure that it stays in line with the Earth’s movement around the sun. Although the modern or common calendar contains 365 days, the original time it takes for Earth to circle its star is somewhat longer – almost 365.25 days. The difference might seem unimportant, but, over the years, this missing quarter of a day per year adds up, making a single complete day. To ensure uniformity with the factual lunar year, it is essential to occasionally add in an additional day to count this missing time, putting the calendar back in sync with the heavens.
Leap Day Traditions
Talking about the Leap Day traditions, Ireland is one place that holds the most famous Leap Day custom, portrayed in popular media. The tradition encourages women to propose to their boyfriend on February 29th.
However, Leap Year traditions are not limited to Ireland. There are slightly different takes in different countries on this day.
In Europe, it’s a social norm for women to propose men on Leap Day. According to legend, Saint Patrick is in charge of the womens’ empowerment. Folklore says that the nun, Saint Brigid of Kildare, requested Saint Patrick to let women propose to men because some male beaus were too shy to propose.
To start, Saint Patrick only conceded a bit by letting women propose to their men every seven years. But after Saint Brigid did some further convincing, he approved to the leap day rule, agreeing women to propose every four years.
And the tradition doesn’t end here! By popular lore, it’s punishable if you say no on February 29th!
There are consequences if you say no to the woman who proposed. As the legend continues, after getting permission for women to propose to men, Brigid immediately got down on her knee and proposed to Patrick. However, he denied her proposal, instead kissing her cheek and giving her a silk gown. Thereafter, it was the beginning of the new Leap Year tradition; if a man refuses the proposal, he must buy a gift as compensation to the woman.
In Finland, men must buy enough fabric for making a skirt if he refuses a Leap Year proposal. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the man should gift the woman 12 gloves, providing different options for her to hide her ringless finger.
In contrast to the rest of Europe, in Scotland, it is believed that being born on a Leap Day brings bad luck. It is usually compared to the Friday 13th or avoiding black cats or walking under ladders.
However, Scots aren’t the only ones to think like that. In Greece, either getting married or getting divorced on Leap Day brings back luck. That believe it will stop one from discovering love again. So rough!
Leap Day and Numerology
For some, Leap Day brings enlightenment. For many who are spiritual, Feb 29th is symbolic of higher understanding, as according to numerology 2 + 9 is thought to represent spiritual arising. It also stands for feminine characteristics and for your soul’s ambitions and desire.
What should we do with the extra time we’re granted?
Put this extra day to use with one of these great ideas!
- Kids: There are various ways to make this day fun for kids. Having some frog-themed art and craft projects are a great start. Frog decorated cupcakes make for a delicious treat. Also, competitions like skipping rope, leap year math activities or jumping distances will set the bar high.
- Adults: Well, it is the perfect day to follow tradition. If you were planning to propose to your boyfriend, Leap Day is a special time to do so. Plan a visit to Anthony, Texas or New Mexico, the self-proclaimed “Leap Year Capital of the World”. Or, catch up on that task that was bothering you on this extra day. Get in touch with your friends or send them cards.
- It’s the perfect day to watch “The Pirates of Penzance,” a musical by Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s an interesting story of a pirate who can regain freedom on his 21st birthday. As he was born on leap day, technically his birthday comes every four years.
When is the next Leap Year?
Our next Leap Year occurs in 2020.
When is a Leap Year birthday?
A person whose birthday falls on February 29th is called a “leaper” or a “leapling.” Those born on this day celebrate their birthday either on February 28th or March 1st in a non-Leap Year.
Make Leap Day super fun with some exciting activities or choose it to bring a big difference in your life! Share your plans for Leap Day 2020 in the comments below.