Leap Day

Leap Day is a day that is added to calendars on leap years. This extra day, which falls on February 29th, makes the year 366 days long instead of the usual 365 days. If this extra day wasn’t added, then it wouldn’t take long for the dates on which the four seasons arrived – winter, spring, summer, and fall – to start coming earlier than expected and eventually destroying the integrity of the calendar.

History of Leap Day

Julius Caesar put in place the first leap day when he created his Julian calendar in 45 BCE. On this calendar, a leap day was added every 4 years. On this calendar, leap day was celebrated on February 24th and the month of February was the final month of the year. However, this didn’t work out too well. With the leap year added every 4 years, the average Julian calendar year was approximately 365.25 days long. Unfortunately, the time is takes for the Earth to travel around the sun is only 365.24 days. This means that the calendar gained 3 days every 400 years. This was fixed in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to the world. This calendar uses a more precise method to calculate leap years than the Julian calendar.

Leap Day Customs & Traditions

There are a variety of Leap Day customs and traditions. For instance, some people who were born on Leap Day have begun calculating their age at ¼ of their actual age. Therefore, if a person who was born on Leap Day is 40, then they might say they were only really 10 years old. This custom has been practiced since the 19th century and is prevalent in children’s books.

In Ireland, women were allowed to propose to men on Leap Day, instead of the men proposing to them as is usually the custom. This is believed to be a way to balance the traditional roles of men and women. This tradition takes place in other parts of Europe as well. However, in some places, if a man refuses a marriage proposal on Leap Day, then he has to buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves, so she can hide her embarrassment about not having an engagement ring for the next year.

In many places, the Leap Day is considered a lucky day. However, in some places, the Leap Day is not so lucky. In Scotland, if a person is born on Leap day, then it is considered to be very unlucky for him. In Greece, many people believed it was unlucky to be married on Leap Day.

When is it?
Next year (2024)
February 29 Thursday
Culture & History