Connecting People, Traditions & Generations

In Greece, 20% of couples avoid marrying in a leap year because it is rumored to be bad luck. Italians think the year is bad luck for any important event, because women supposedly behave erratically all year.

These are some fun facts from an article by Julie McCaffrey about the meaning of leap days throughout the world. February 29th only happens once every four years and 2016 is a leap year, so keep reading to find out more about these unique days.

  • Leap year was initiated by Julius Caesar’s astronomer but the term itself was coined by Pope Gregory XIII, who specified that leap years are divisible by 100 but not by 400.
  • In Russia, leap years are thought to bring strange weather and an increased chance of death.
  • There is a long-standing tradition of women reversing gender roles and proposing on leap day. In Ireland, the story is that in the 5th century, St. Patrick gave the day to women for that purpose. The Scottish believe the tradition was started by a 5-year-old Queen Margaret in 1288. She said that if a man refused, he had to pay a fine of a kiss, a silk dress, gloves, or one pound. In Denmark, the fine is 12 pairs of gloves, and in Finland it is fabric to make a skirt.
  • If you get paid an annual salary, you may be working a day for free! Sometimes the extra day isn’t accounted for. Even worse? People in prison serve an extra day.
  • If you’re born on leap day, you’re called a “leapling” or “leaper.” The probability of someone being born on a February 29th is 1 in 1,461!

Read the full article.