Skip to content

Feel like things are getting on top of you, and you can’t keep up? Don’t worry – Leap Year Day is a free day that only comes around once every four years! Use it to catch up, slow down, and prepare yourself for another four years of hectic madness…

History of Leap Year Day

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!

How to Celebrate Leap Year Day

Get creative and have fun by celebrating Leap Year Day in a myriad of ways, including some of these:

Make a Proposal

While in the 21st century, it’s certainly acceptable for a woman to propose to a man any time she wants, women who feel attached to this tradition or the Irish culture may want to participate on Leap Year Day. It’s a fun and exciting way to give a nod to this interesting bit of folklore and also offers a delightful story to tell the children and grandchildren someday!

Watch the Movie Leap Year

One fun and entertaining way to celebrate Leap Year Day might be to pop some popcorn and enjoy the delightful romantic comedy that tells one couple’s story of the intention to propose on this day. Amy Adams and Matthew Goode offer a laughable time with adventures and an unexpected love story in the movie, Leap Year, originally released in 2010.

Celebrate Leap Year Day with Kids

Kids can have loads of fun coming up with creative ideas for celebrating Leap Year Day all around the theme of “leaping”. Make crafts and decorate with frog-themed items, play leap-frog, jump on a trampoline, and more. Older kids might like to make a time capsule that can be opened on the next leap day in four years.

Also on ...

View all holidays

Bachelor’s Day

Whether it's traveling to a new destination or trying a new hobby, there's never a dull moment when you're single and ready to mingle.

International Underlings Day

These loyal sidekicks and assistants are the real heroes, keeping things running smoothly and ensuring the boss looks good.

View all holidays