Every four years, we fall upon a rare experience the whole world can commemorate. No, we’re not talking about the Olympics (those come later this year) – we’re talking about Leap Day! We only see February 29th every fourth year, and today is that day.
While Leap Day isn’t technically a holiday, it does come with its share of excitement. Not only can those people born on Leap Day celebrate their birthday on the actual date they were born (something they can only do every four years), but many cultures have special traditions to commemorate the special occasion. Here are a few:
- There is a popular Irish tradition that a woman may propose marriage to a man on February 29. If the man refuses, he then is obligated to give the woman money or buy her a dress. In upper-class societies in Europe, if the man refuses marriage, he then must purchase 12 pairs of gloves for the woman, suggesting that the gloves are to hide the woman’s embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. (Ouch!)
- In other matrimonial-themed folklore, in Greece it is considered unlucky to marry on Leap Day, and even during a leap year.
- Leap Day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after an archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. The memorial is celebrated on February 29 during Leap Years and on February 28 during common years.
Do you have a Leap Day tradition? Are you a “Leapling” (someone born on Leap Day)? Enjoy your extra day today!