Leap Year Traditions Around The World I Oxford Open Learning
Leap Year

Leap Year Traditions Around The World

Celebrating That Rare 29th Of February

Every four years we have a Leap Year, which gifts us an extra day, the elusive February 29th, known as Leap Day – and the next is due in just a few days time. This anomaly in the calendar has inspired unique traditions and celebrations around the world.

Tradition In Ireland

In Ireland, Leap Day (known as Bachelor’s Day or Ladies’ Privilege Day) carries a tradition of empowering women to take charge of their romantic destinies. According to folklore, on February 29th, women have the right to propose to their partners (this may not mean quite so much now). This custom dates back to a 5th-century Irish nun, St. Brigid, who complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait too long for suitors to propose. St. Patrick then granted women the opportunity to propose every four years.

America’s Leap Year Capital

The self-proclaimed “Leap Year Capital of the World,” Anthony, Texas, hosts a festival to honour the Leap Day. The town embraces the uniqueness of this day and welcomes people born on February 29th (known as Leap Babies) from around the US and a few foreign countries too. The festival features parades, concerts, and a grand birthday celebration for Leap Babies of all ages. At last count, their leap year party club had over 400 members, allegedly.

Germany’s Liebesmaie

In the Rhineland region of Germany, love-struck boys place a small birch tree adorned with ribbons, known as a Liebesmaie, on the doorstep of their crush on the eve of May Day, 30th April. In each leap year, girls can reciprocate this gesture. Additionally, on May Day itself, another unique tradition unfolds as only women partake in the maypole dance during these years, while in non-leap years, men also join in the festivities.

The Occasional French Paper

La Bougie du Sapeur is a French satirical newspaper that is only published on the 29th of February and has been honouring this Leap Day tradition for the last 43 years. It includes unusual articles, humorous anecdotes, fake advertisements, and absurd events and is meant to be an escape from daily life.

In conclusion, Leap Day, occurring every four years, sparks diverse traditions globally, from empowering marriage proposals to festive celebrations and generally embracing a lighter perspective on life.



Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sanu_N

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I am a practising HR consultant working with several start-ups on an ongoing and ad-hoc basis in the London and M4 area, and am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD. I am the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk; thecareercafe.co.uk is a resource for start-ups and small business. It includes a blog containing career advice, small business advice articles, HR software reviews, and contains great resources such as HR Productivity Apps.

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