Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again a lovely leap year. While I’m sure those of you who were born on February 29th (they’re called Leap Day Babies) and have a “real” birthday this year are absolutely thrilled, most everyone else is probably thinking “so?” Well, for one, you should be celebrating because this year is 366 days instead of 365—a whole extra day to fulfill New Year’s Resolutions, procrastinate, figure out what you want to do with your life, or…you get the picture. To get into the spirit of this wonderful extra day that comes but once every four years, here’s some trivia for you to impress your buddies.

Weddings are in the air
If you’ve seen the movie Leap Year, you’ve already heard about this little legend. In old Irish tradition, it is said St. Bridget and St. Patrick made a bargain that women could propose to men every four years. It is said the deal was struck to create a balance between the gender roles, just like Leap Day creates a balance for the calendar. In fact, in 1288 it is said if a man refused, he had to even pay a fine! In other countries, he had to provide the woman with a silk pair of gloves—so she can shamefully hide her engagement ring-less hand. So, ladies, though he won’t have to pay you if he declines, if you feel bold and ready to get hitched, here’s an excuse to drop down to your knee and give him a ring.

But it’s not Friday the 13th….
With Leap Day comes a lot of superstition. Many countries have their own accounts of bad luck on account of this extra day. In Greece, it’s bad luck to get married on a leap year. Any happy occasion occurring in a leap year in India means bad news bears. China apparently expects a lot of “difficult” babies to be born during the leap month, and also see a lot more accidents too. And if you’re Scottish and born on Leap Day, bad luck is coming your way too.

A game of numbers
We generally understand Leap Year to come every four years. It’s consistent, it’s easy, it lines up well with the Olympics and Presidential elections. But this isn’t always the case. Every so often, the calendar gets messed up and Leap Year is further postponed. Sometimes eight years can pass! But don’t fret, Leap Day Babies, this is rare—so rare, you won’t even see it happen. This last happened between 1896 and 1904. It’s scheduled to occur again between 2096 and 2104. Five is also a number to keep in mind with Leap Year. February 2008 had five Fridays, starting and ending on the same day. This happens every 28 years, so expect five glorious February Fridays again in 2036.

My birthday exists this year
Congratulations and happy birthday to those of you born on the 29th! I used to think it was cool to often get to choose your birthday of  February 28th or March 1st, but I think I like the structure of having my birthday always be on the calendar. But if you are born on this interesting day, it is said you Pisces have unusual talents and personalities which reflect this special status of being a “leapling.” Maybe you can fit your foot in your mouth or can create castles out of peas—can anyone do that or would they roll away first? You have your birthday to thank for that one.

Happy Leap Day everyone! Hopefully it’s not a day of bad luck, weird superstitions coming true, and hiding your hands under gloves for you.


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