Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day, 2016

I won't have the opportunity to post on this day (February 29th) for another four years so I thought I should take advantage of it now by looking at some of the customs, traditions and superstitions that are associated with it.

According to an old Irish legend, St. Brigid struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years on February 29th.  This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in the same way that Leap Day balances the calendar.

A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, the tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29th has to buy her twelve pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were even laws governing this tradition.

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on Leap Day. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry any time during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day. In Russia, it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather conditions and a greater risk of death all around.

How or why some of these beliefs and traditions ever started is lost to obscurity but it was fun looking into some of them on this Leap Day, 2016.

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