Leap Day Traditions From Around the World + 4 Recipes To Mark the Occasion

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 is 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.

LEAP YEAR TRADITIONS

Leap Day has been around since the first century BC. Julius Caesar started the tradition of Leap Day over 2000 years ago; along with it are a few interesting traditions…

GO SHORTY – BIRTHDAYS

Ever wondered if people born in a leap year only get to celebrate their birthday once every four years? Thankfully, they don’t have to. Babies born in Leap Years are called ‘Leaplings’; they 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.


IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS – THE OLYMPICS

Intentional or purely a fluke? The Olympics always fall into a Leap Year. This year, the multi-sports event is being held in Paris, France, which will showcase 4 new sports disciplines. Believe it or not, ‘breaking’ or ‘breakdancing’ makes its debut at this year’s Olympics, where competitors will battle head-to-head. Long jump, high jump, hurdles, there’s lots of leaping in these games!


 IF YOU LIKE IT THEN YOU SHOULDA PUT A RING ON IT – PROPOSALS 

Why wait for them to pop the question when you can take matters into your own hands? According to an old Irish Leap Year tradition, women should propose to their significant other on the 29th of February; the unique practice is believed to have started around the 5th century. 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.

THE PRICE OF REJECTION – SCOTLAND

A similar tradition involving leap years and marriage proposals exists in Scotland; this one dates to the 13th century. According to legend, Queen Margaret of Scotland enacted a law in 1288 ‘allowing’ women to propose to men during leap years. However, there was a twist – if a man refused a woman’s proposal, he needed to pay a fine. The fine could range from a kiss to a silk gown or, in some cases, twelve pairs (one for every month) of gloves for the woman to hide her ringless finger (a girl needs fashion choices, okay).

We’re not sure if these Leap Year marriage traditions would hold any water today; they’re kind of antiquated. Times have changed, and so have outdated gender roles. Propose to whomever, whenever and however you want – or don’t.


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. Try this easy-to-make Spanish tapas dish, Pintxos, with four different toppings. For something with a little local flavour, enjoy this 4-Cheese Baked Pap.

Feeling inspired and want to flex your culinary skills? Take a crack at chef Ryan Shell’s Beetroot 4 Ways masterpiece. Finally, if you need something sweet, we highly recommend Red Velvet Petit Fours.

leap day recipes
leap day recipes

BONUS RECIPES

Craving something extra? We have 2 bonus recipes that are named after our ‘leaping’ friends… Toad-in-the-Hole and Spooky Toadstool Pasta with Café au Lait Sauce.

Happy Leap Year!

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