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Leap Day 2024: Unique traditions celebrated globally every four years

Leap Day has inspired various traditions and superstitions around the world.

Every four years, we get a bonus day added to our calendar, making February a little longer than usual.

This day, known as Leap Day, falls on February 29th and is the result of our calendar system designed to keep our clocks and calendars in sync with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. But Leap Day isn’t just a day for adjusting our timekeeping; it’s also a day rich with traditions and celebrations around the globe.

Ireland’s proposal tradition

One of the most famous Leap Day traditions comes from Ireland, where Leap Day is known as Bachelor’s Day. According to the tradition, women are encouraged to take the leap and propose marriage to their partners on this day. This custom is said to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way that Leap Day balances the calendar.

Greece’s unlucky day to wed

In contrast to the Irish tradition, in Greece, Leap Day is considered an unlucky day to get married. Many couples avoid planning their wedding on Leap Day or even in a Leap Year altogether, fearing it might bring bad luck to their marriage.

Italy’s leap year frog

In Italy, Leap Day is associated with the saying “Anno bisesto, anno funesto,” which can be roughly translated to “Leap year, doom year,” suggesting that Leap Years may bring misfortune. However, to counter this superstition, some Italian towns celebrate with festivals that include wearing frog-themed decorations-a symbol of good luck and leap years.

Scotland’s day of bad omens

In Scotland, there’s an old saying that goes, “Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year,” suggesting that Leap Years are not favorable for farming and livestock. Despite this superstition, Scots, like many others around the world, use Leap Day as an opportunity to celebrate the quirks of our calendar.

Anthony, Texas and New Mexic is the Leap Year capital of the world

The twin cities of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, New Mexico, declare themselves the “Leap Year Capital of the World” and host a festival every Leap Year. This celebration includes a parade, birthday parties for people born on February 29th, and fun events that embrace the leap year theme.

Finland’s pants tradition

In Finland, there’s a unique tradition where if a woman proposes to a man on Leap Day and he refuses, he must compensate her by buying her fabric for a skirt. This quirky tradition adds a playful element to Leap Day, encouraging proposals and, at the very least, resulting in some new clothing.