Leap Day
Date: Thu Feb 29 - Thu Feb 29

While most people would typically say that every year has just 365 days in it, that isn’t exactly true. In fact, it takes exactly 365 and one-fourth days for the earth to travel around the sun. This means, in order for the years to be entirely accurate and precise, it is necessary to have a “correction day” every four years, where an extra day is added to account for the extra one-fourth of a day.

The history of calendars has been a bit complicated with the Roman calendar including only 355 days. Reform of the calendar during Caesar’s time led to adding a “leap day”, but it was still a bit confusing. By the late 1500s, the Gregorian calendar (initiated by Pope Gregory XIII) began its movement into the modern world, and its practice of having an extra day every four years was slowly adopted and became common practice in the West over the next two centuries.

But Leap Year Day is more than just an extra day on the calendar at the end of February. In fact, the day comes with a variety of interesting practices and customs, as well as some superstitions that include bad luck. For instance, in Greece, a superstition holds that marriages that take place in a leap year will end badly.

For instance, the tradition of a woman being able to propose to a man on Leap Year Day can trace its roots back to Irish folklore. In Scotland, women who intended to propose were encouraged to wear a red petticoat on the day. And a man who refused a proposal from a woman on Leap Year Day may have been subject to a fine that ranged anywhere from one pound to a silk gown!