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.
Here are a few of the more common Leap Day customs and traditions.
Women can propose to their boyfriends - or any other man!
Now it may well seem just a little out of sync with the 21st century, that a woman can only ask a man to marry her on this date, but how did this tradition come about?
It is thought to date back to the 5th century, when legend has it that an Irish nun called St Brigid or Bridget, complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. So St Patrick decreed that on the one day in February, that occurs only once every four years, women were allowed to propose to their men.
Need new gloves?
In many European countries the tradition, if a man refuses a marriage proposal on Leap Day, is that they should pay a penalty of buying the woman 12 pairs of gloves. This allows the woman to hide the embarrassment of a naked ring finger by wearing gloves. Apparently, during the Middle Ages, laws governed this tradition. I don't know about you, but 12 pairs of gloves seems a tad over the top. I prefer the countries where the penalty was expected in the form of money or a gown!
By the sheer fact that the day only comes one year in four, it seems a little unlucky if you are born on this day in a leap year to only have a proper birthday every four years. In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on this date, similarly as Friday 13th is considered unlucky by many people. In Greece, it is considered unlucky for couple to marry during a leap year and especially on Leap Day.
Technically a leap year isn't every four years.
The year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.
There's a leap year every year that is divisible by four, except for years that are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.
The added rule about centuries (versus just every four years) was an additional fix to make up for the fact that an extra day every four years is too much of a correction.
Facts about Leap years
- The Summer Olympic Games are always held in a leap year.
- US presidential elections are held every four years, in a leap year.
- If you work on a fixed annual wage, the 29th is just one more day's work than you would usually have to do for your salary.
- February 29 also marks Rare Disease Day.
- There's a leap year club for people born on February 29th. More than 10,000 people world-wide are members.
Make Leap Day 2016 a a special day.
So are you going to make February 29th extra special ?
What will you do with that extra day?
Why not take that extra Leap towards those special goals, maybe do something adventurous, that you have never done before?
Head over to our 90 Day Goal Challenge page for some tips on reaching your goals.