Leap year was created to ensure our traditional calendar and seasons stay aligned. Julius Cesar officially designated February 29 as Leap Day in 45 B.C. It is assumed the earth revolves around the sun every 365 days, but it actually takes about 6 hours longer than that. So an extra day is added every four years to stay somewhat on track.
Those born on the 29th are often called “leaplings” or “leap year babies” and typically will celebrate a birthday on the 28th of February or the 1st of March.
“Usually on my non-leap year birthdays I just do a casual dinner. But this year, since I’ll be turning 6, I’m having a ’90s-themed party at a roller rink. You have to go big because you only get a birthday every four years.” – Emily Clayton
“I like to traditionally celebrate my leap year birthday on the years where there is no leap year by having a two-day birthday festival. I normally celebrate my leap year birthdays by having a party in the style of the age that I’m turning. In this case, 8. Last time, we had a bouncy castle with lawn games, balloons and streamers and all behaved like we were 7 years old.” – Peter Campbell
“I’m going to actually be sweet 16 this year. … Especially teaching school it’s been really unique, because the kids go home and say “I have a teacher that’s younger than me.” – Judy Lange
Historically, it was considered bad luck to be born in a leap year, but the day got a boost back in 5th century Ireland when St. Brigid of Kildare complained to Saint Patrick that men took far too long to propose. So Patrick decreed that a woman could propose to man on Feb 29th– and if he refused her he had to pay a fine.
Monks brought this leap year tradition to Scotland and in 1288, the Scots’ Queen Margaret supposedly passed a law that allowed a woman to propose marriage to the man of their dreams in a Leap Year– again there would be a fine if he refused. The fine could be a kiss, a pair of gloves or a silk dress. In some other places in Europe, the custom of denial involved buying 12 pairs of gloves for the woman the man rejected. To hide her shame at not having a ring to wear.
The idea remained popular enough through the Victorian era for companies to market Leap Year cards.
Photography: Chelsea – Lovely Indeed