Leap Day Traditions PLUS Recipes Celebrating the Number 4

Words: Crush

Every four years we celebrate a Leap Year, which gives us all one extra day, making the year 366 days long, instead of 365. The reason is a mathematical one, that in a nutshell, keeps our calendar in alignment with the earth’s revolutions around the sun.

A Numbers Game

It takes the earth approximately 365.242189 days (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds) to circle once around the sun – this called a tropical year. Without an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days (source: cleveland.com).

Leap Year Traditions

Julius Caesar started the tradition of Leap Day over 2000 years ago; along with it are a few interesting traditions.


Leap Day has been around since the first century BC and has some interesting traditions, such as babies born in Leap Years being called ‘Leaplings’. Leaplings usually celebrate their birthdays on the 28th of February or the 1st of March. There’s even an Honour Society for Leap Year Babies that Leaplings can join.


Interestingly, or most likely by fluke, the Olympics always fall into a Leap Year – this year’s being held in Tokyo, Japan. Long jump, triple jump, high jump, hurdles, there’s a lot of leaping in these games!



Probably the most notable tradition is that woman are supposed to use the day as an opportunity to propose. Legend has it that St Brigid came to an agreement with St Patrick to allow gals to propose to guys every four years, supposedly to balance out the equation, much like the extra day does to the years. We, however, think this tradition is seriously outdated and fully support girls getting down on one knee whenever the moment takes them!

Way back in the day, there were actually laws that governed the response if a guy refused a proposal from a fair maiden. It he did (swine!) it was said that he had to buy her 12 pairs of gloves (a pair for every month in the year) to supposedly to hide the embarrassment of un un-engaged hand (a girl needs fashion choices, ok?). We’re not sure if this tradition would hold any water today though, a calling out or blocking on social media would probably suffice.

We Celebrate with Food

What we will always agree with, however, is marking any occasion with food, so we’ve rounded up our top four recipes that celebrate the number 4. We have easy-to-make Spanish tapas dish Pintxos with four different toppings. We then have a 4-Cheese Baked Pap for a little local flavour.

If you’re feeling really inspired and ready to flex your culinary muscles, try Chef Ryan Shell’s Beetroot 4 Ways masterpiece. Finally, if you need something sweet, we just love these Red Velvet Petit Fours.

leap day recipes
leap day recipes


Just in case you need a little extra inspiration, we have 2 bonus recipes that are named for our ‘leaping’ friends… Toad-in-the-Hole and Spooky Toadstool Pasta with Café au Lait Sauce.

Happy Leap Year!

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