Today, as you no doubt know, is February 29, a day that only exists every four calendar years. In order to balance out the rate that the Earth rotates around the sun with our calendar, we add an extra day to our year and call it Leap Day. Ever since Leap Years were first introduced over 2000 years ago when we transitioned from the Roman calendar to the Julian calendar, this day has been connected to age-old traditions and folklore.
Perhaps the most famous tradition associated with Leap Day springs from an old Irish tale. As legend has it, St Bridget of Ireland struck up a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to their men (and not the other way around) every four years. Many believe this was introduced to balance the traditional roles or men and women just like how Leap Day balances our calendar. In some places, if a man refuses a proposal on Leap Day, he was expected to pay a penalty, such as money, a gown, or in some European societies, 12 pairs of gloves to the woman he snubbed.. This even resulted in several laws governing this tradition in the Middle Ages.
In Scottish and Greek culture, Leap Day is considered unlucky, much like Friday the 13th. In Scotland, people born on February 29th are thought to be cursed with bad luck for the rest of their lives. In Greece, couples traditionally consider getting married during a Leap Year bad luck. Today, 1 in 5 Greek couples still refuse to get married during a Leap Year.
We’re not the only society that changes our calendar during a Leap Year. Chinese, Iranian, Ethiopian, Hindu, and Jewish calendars all add an entire month to their calendars during a Leap Year.
Do you know anyone born on Leap Day or have any special Leap Year traditions? Leave me a comment below!