How leap years are seen throughout the globe

What occurs as soon as each 4 years and may convey something from unbridled pleasure to ideas of inescapable curses?

No, not the World Cup. A intercalary year, in fact, and with it the day of February 29.

Those born on this specific date — some 5 million folks worldwide, generally known as Leaplings or Leapers — face the dilemma of selecting which day to have fun their birthday on throughout non-leap years. But they’ll additionally look ahead to a particular milestone when the date really seems within the calendar, as is the case in 2024.

Wedding crashes

In Ireland, February 29 is named Bachelor’s Day, or Lady’s Privilege, and has historically been seen as a day when ladies might suggest to males, primarily based on the legend of Saint Bridget and Saint Patrick.

It is alleged that Saint Bridget, a fifth-century nun, struck a cope with Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, that allowed ladies to suggest to males on this big day. 

Apparently, the custom was additional strengthened by a Scottish legislation adopted again in 1288, when it was nonetheless unlawful for girls to ask males to marry them; an exception was made that allowed them to take action on a February 29. The legislation even acknowledged that if a person declined the proposal on today, he must pay a positive.

Other interpretations of the custom slightly base it on a time when English legislation didn’t acknowledge February 29 as a authorized day; ladies have been impressed by that bureaucratic loophole to take the lead in getting engaged.

By the 1900s, the custom of roles-reversed proposals had unfold to the United States.

Amy Adams and Adam Scott in "Leap Year" scene, a couple sitting in a fancy restaurant drinking champagne.
A scene from the 2010 movie ‘Leap Year’: Anna is left disenchanted when her boyfriend provides her earrings, slightly than an engagement ringImage: Jonathan Hession/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

The 2010 film “Leap Year” was impressed by this custom. The romantic comedy follows actual property stager Anna, performed by Amy Adams, as sheo travels from Boston to Dublin on the Irish Bachelor’s Day to satisfy her boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott), and ask him to marry her.

The concept of girls proposing on the final day of February in a intercalary year was additionally taken up in Denmark and Finland.

In Denmark, the customized states {that a} man who’d slightly keep single should give the rejected lady 12 pairs of gloves, which might be sufficient for her to cover the disgrace that she has no ring to point out off. In Finland, the person should present the lady with sufficient material to stitch a skirt, although the hyperlink to the shortage of a wedding proposal is much less clear.

A woman gets down on one knee and asks a man to marry her
Even if the custom lives on, ladies can clearly suggest any day they like Image: Christin Klose/dpa/image alliance

Bad luck?

In some nations, leap years are thought to convey dangerous luck.

As for Germany, in line with an previous farmers’ proverb, “Schaltjahr gleich Kaltjahr.” Simply put: A intercalary year might be a chilly yr.

One slightly completely satisfied German custom will get a brand new twist each 4 years, although in a roundabout way on February 29. In non-leap years, on the evening earlier than May 1, teenage boys within the Rhine area fell birch bushes, adorn them with streamers and affix them to the entrance of the home of the lady they admire — making a tall and public ornament of affection. In leap years, the custom is reversed and it is the ladies’ flip to do it.

 a tree decorated with ribbons and the name Julia in a heart.
One Rhineland custom invitations ladies to declare their love with a May pole throughout leap yearsImage: Henning Kaiser/dpa/image alliance

Globally, the overall consensus does level to dangerous luck, although.

In Taiwan, for instance, the yr with an additional day is deemed unfortunate as a result of many consider that aged dad and mom usually tend to die each 4 years. To assist promote longevity, married daughters should return dwelling through the intercalary year with noodles for his or her dad and mom. The noodle dish is so scrumptious and wholesome that there’s a probability it might struggle again towards the misfortune that the yr may convey.

The theme of marriage and dangerous luck comes collectively in holy matrimony in Greece, the place exchanges of vows on February 29 are to mentioned to be riddled with dangerous luck; these marriages are destined to finish in divorce.

Likewise, when you’re misguided sufficient to break up on a the identical date, the Greeks consider you are doomed to by no means discover love once more.

White houses and roofs on the island of Santorini (Thira).
You may wish to discover out about Greek superstitions earlier than getting married or divorced there on February 29Image: Mykhailo Pavlov/Zoonar/image alliance

Celebrating in Leap Year Capital of the World

If you are in want of a intercalary year enhance, head to Anthony, a city on the Texas-New Mexico border.

It hosts an annual, multi-day intercalary year pageant with origins within the friendship between so-called “29-ers” Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis, who pitched the thought to the city council in 1988.

Brown contacted native governors and the occasion has since discovered success because the city now proclaims itself to be the “Leap Year Capital of the World,” internet hosting folks from throughout the globe.

Of course, this occurs as soon as each 4 years and in contrast to the soccer World Cup, everyone seems to be a winner, and there isn’t any signal of misfortune in sight.

Edited by: Elizabeth Grenier