It is almost here! Tomorrow is February 29th! My friend from Poland, Agnieszka, celebrates her birthday tomorrow! What a great way to stay young:) Let’s see…if she would really celebrate her birthday every 4 years, she would be only 9 today!!! Happy Birthday Agnieszka!
Leap Day, on February 29, has been a day of traditions, folklore and superstitions ever since Leap Years were first introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago.
So what are the customs/traditions for this special day?
Well, I guess the most known one is when Women Propose to Their Men! (kobiety oświadczają się mężczyznom)
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.
This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.
But I guess every country is different…
In Greece, getting married in a leap year is considered inauspicious, and the relationship is thought likely to end in divorce.
Women in Finland are advised to propose only on leap-year day – Feb. 29 – for good luck. If her boyfriend should refuse, he is required to pay her a “fine”: enough fabric to make a skirt.
In Scotland, an unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in 1288 allowing women to propose on leap-year day. But there was a catch: The proposer had to wear a red petticoat (a skirt under her skirt) to warn her intended that she planned to pop the question.
Perhaps the most well-known of the leap-year marriage superstitions belongs to Ireland, where, again, women are advised to propose only on Feb. 29 for good luck. (Anyone remember the 2010 film, “Leap Year”?)
Another custom, Gloves Hide Naked Ring Finger (Rękawice ukrywają nagi palec serdeczny)
In some places, leap day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.
In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.
Leap Day Babies World Record
People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are Leap Day World Record Holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.
How do “leaplings”, people born on Leap Day, celebrate their birthdays? Leap day on February 29 occurs nearly every four years, but leap day babies, or leaplings, still get to celebrate their birthdays in common years. Some celebrate on February 28, some prefer March 1. However, many countries have laws defining which date a person born on February 29 comes of age in legal terms. For instance in New Zealand, the official birthday falls on February 28 in common years; in other countries like the United Kingdom, leap year babies have to wait until March 1.
Celebrity Leap Day Birthdays
1468 – Pope Paul III (d. 1549)
1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville) (d. 1868)
1896 – Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (d. 1995)
1968 – Wendi Louise Peters, English television and theatre character actress
1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994)
1924 – Al Rosen, American baseball player
1924 – Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker
1964 – Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
1972 – Saul Stacey Williams, American singer, musician, poet, writer, and actor
1972 – Antonio Sabàto Jr, Italian-born actor
1976 – Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins), American rapper and actor
1980 – Chris Conley, American musician and songwriter/composer
Unlucky in Love
In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day (like I mentioned before).
St Oswald’s Day
Leap day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. His memorial is celebrated on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 duringcommon years.