Leap Year Traditions: 9 Things That Can Happen Every February 29

Leap Year
There are many traditions to celebrate that 2016 is a Leap Year! REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Leap Days, or an extra day added on February 29 happen because the actual time it takes the Earth to rotate the sun is 365.2421 days. To ensure consistency with the true astronomical year, one day is added to the year in order to get the calendar back in sync with the movement of planet. This means, every four years, an additional 24 hours have to be added to the month of February.

The idea is nothing new; in fact it dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians were the first to realize the need for a leap year, but it was in fact the Roman's who first brought it into practice in Europe. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar and the astronomer Sosigenes altered the Roman lunar calendar for the solar calendar with 12 months and 365 days, as well as the leap year cycle. However, as the solar year is only .242 days longer and not .25, there are still an extra 11 minutes added to every year.

Now that it is customary to have this day every four years, certain traditions have come up and been kept throughout the years. Here are the most popular ones:

Women Propose to Men: This is just the way it sounds. An Irish legend tells the story that 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.

Gloves To Hide Naked Ring Finger: Queen Margaret of Scotland brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. Sometimes, it is customary in Europe that the man buys her 12 pairs of gloves to hide her bare ring finger.

Prayer Written by Female Cleric: Possibly to prevent a tragic proposal on this day, a prayer was written to remind couples that wedding plans should not overtake preparations for a lifetime together. "God of love, please bless N and N as they prepare for the commitment of marriage. May the plans for the wedding not overtake the more important preparation for their lifetime together. Please bless their family and friends as they prepare for this special day and may your blessing be upon them now and always. Amen."

Leap Day Babies: Those born on February 29 are invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.

St. Oswald’s Day: Named after the archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. This day is celebrated on that date every leap year and on February 28 on regular years.

Unlucky in Love: Greeks seem to see Leap Years as a long Friday 13, as they do not recommend couples to get married throughout the year, not to mention on Leap Day.

Bad Weather: In Russia it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather patterns and a greater risk of death all round.

Leap Year Parties: Just like the inverse proposals, there were parties where it was aloud for girls to ask boys to dance with them. Ellen Tucker Emerson described the experience in 1860 as "very funny" and "a rousting" time.

Married daughetrs in Taiwan traditionally return home during the leap month because they believe the lunar month can bring bad health to parents. Daughters bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune.

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Natalie Roterman
Natalie Roterman

Natalie (from Mexico) joined Latin Times back in 2014 and she is all about pop culture and entertainment. She also has a genetic love for food and traveling. Follow her and get the scoop on the biggest upcoming films and TV shows, plus interviews with your favorite stars that you won’t want to miss. When she’s not writing for Latin Times, she’s either filming her next episode of “El Show de Natalie,” at a movie theater, binge-watching a new TV series, or planning her next meal.