Home > Calendar > Leap Day customs

Leap Day customs & traditions

Leap Day, February 29, is an intercalary day inserted in a Leap Year, nearly every four years. Leap Day has long been associated with old traditions, superstitions and folklore.

Illustration image
Role reversal on Leap Day 29 February
Traditionally, women take the ring into their own hands and propose on Leap Day.
©iStockphoto.com/DNY59

Leap Day is February 29, which is an extra (intercalary) day added during a Leap Year, making the year 366 days long – as opposed to the normal 365 days.

Nearly every four years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian Calendar.

Leap Day has been associated with age-old traditions and folklore ever since Leap Years were first introduced over 2000 years ago with the transition from the Roman Calendar to the Julian Calendar in 45 BCE (Before Common Era).

Women propose to their men

According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget 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.

12 pairs of gloves

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 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.

Famous Leap Day birthdays and trivia

Unlucky in love

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on Leap Day, just like Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. In Greece it’s said to be unlucky for couples to marry during a Leap Year, and especially on Leap Day.

St Oswald’s Day

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.

Topics: Leap Year, February, Calendar

In this Article

Advertising

Leap Day Library

  1. Customs & traditions
  2. Famous Birthdays
  3. February 30, 1712

Leap day 29 February



Create Calendar with Holidays


When is the next occurance of

  

You might also like

The Chinese Calendar

The Chinese calendar is one of the oldest calendars in modern society. It is a lunisolar calendar. more

Prophet's Birthday

The Islamic leap year

A leap year in the the Islamic Hijri calendar occurs 11 times in a 30-year cycle, in which 1 day is added to the last month of the year. more

Lord Ganesha

The Hindu leap year

The Hindu leap year has an extra month and occurs once every 3 years or 4 times in 11 years. more