by Miriam Mezzetti
Today is Leap Day (also known as Leap Year’s Day)! Around the world, for most countries that use the Gregorian calendar, there are interesting traditions and myths about the day that occurs only once every 4 years: February 29th.
Love is often a theme of Leap Day celebrations. In some countries, mostly English-speaking nations with ties to the UK, it is traditional for a woman tired of waiting for a proposal to propose to a man on Leap Day. This tradition began over 200 years ago and continues to the present. Other regions believe Leap Day, or even the whole year, to be an unlucky time for love. In Greece, couples generally avoid marrying during a leap year since it is believed that it will lead to an unlucky marriage.
There is also, of course, something special about being born on Leap Day! For practical purposes, Leap Day babies often celebrate their birthday on February 28th. However, being born on the day that only occurs once every four years entitles Leap Day babies to membership in the International Society of Leap Year Babies!
The concept of being born on a leap year has also inspired great comedies, most famously Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical The Pirates of Penzance (the protagonist of which was born on leap year and feels duty bound to a contract that is set to expire on his 21st birthday… when he is over 80 years old).