Leap Day Traditions, Why we have an extra Day in February every 4 years, Leap Day 2012

Bogs will sniff it out. 

February 29th, leap day.

Happy Birthday to all you special babies!

Now down to business, why do we have an extra day, what was/is the purpose of it? Are there any special traditions that people do on this day? What are they?

All these answers and more, aye will bring to you now, if you have your own traditions feel free to share them in the comments below.

Why do we have an extra day in February every four years?

The Romans originally had a 355-day calendar. To keep up with the seasons, an extra 22 or 23-day month was inserted every second year. For reasons unknown, this extra month was only observed now and then. By Julius Caesar’s time, the seasons no longer occurred at the same calendar periods as history had shown. To correct this, Caesar eliminated the extra month and added one or two extra days to the end of various months (his month included, which was Quintilis, later renamed Julius we know it as July). This extended the calendar to 365 days. Also intended was an extra calendar day every fourth year (following the 28th day of Februarius). However, after Caesar’s death in 44 B.C., the calendars were written with an extra day every 3 years instead of every 4 until corrected in 8 A.D. So again, the calendar drifted away from the seasons. By 1582, Pope Gregory XIII recognized that Easter would eventually become closer and closer to Christmas. The calendar was reformed so that a leap day would occur in any year that is divisible by 4 but not divisible by 100 except when the year is divisible by 400. Thus 1600 and 2000, although century marks, have a Leap Day. The calendar we use today, known as the Gregorian calendar, makes our year 365.2425 days only off from our solar year by .00031, which amounts to only one day’s error after 4,000 years.

Leap day traditions:

Women propose to their men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.
In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. 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, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 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 laws governing this tradition. 

Bad luck
In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on Leap Day, just like Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. In Greece it’s said to be unlucky for couples to marry during a Leap Year, and especially on Leap Day.

St Oswald’s Day
Leap Day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after an archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. The memorial is celebrated on February 29 during Leap Years and on February 28 during common years.

World Record of Leap Day Babies
People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are world record holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.

Did you know that other cultures have their own versions of leap years? 
The Chinese leap year has 13 months, with a leap month added about every 3 years. The name of a leap month is the same as previous lunar month. The leap month’s place in the The Chinese calendar varies from year to year. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, 2006 was a leap year in the Chinese calendar.
~How is a Chinese leap month calculated?
To determine a leap year, calculate the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year and the 11th month in the following year. A leap month is inserted if there are 13 moons from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the next year. The leap month does not contain a principal term (Zhongqi).The Chinese calendar has been used for centuries and observes the movement of the sun, moon and stars.

the Jewish calendar has 13 months in a leap year. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has 383, 384, or 385 days.
Adar – the lucky month
An extra month, Adar I, is added after the month ofShevat and before the month of Adar in a leap year. The month is also known as Adar Rishon or Adar Alef. According to Jewish tradition, Adar is a lucky and happy month. A leap year is referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me'uberet, or a pregnant year. A Jewish leap year occurs 7 times in a 19-year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years are leap years in this cycle.

The Iranian or Persian calendar has about 8 leap years in a 33-year cycle. An extra day is added to the last month in a leap year.
~Calculating the leap year
Leap years usually occur every four years. After every six or seven leap years, the Iranian calendar includes a leap year that occurs on the fifth year instead of the fourth year. A period of 2820 years was the base for calculations to establish the frequency of a leap year occurring on the fifth year. At the start and the end of the 2820-year cycle, the vernal equinox takes place exactly at the same time of the tropical year.
The Iranian calendar dates back to the 11th century, when a panel of scientists created a calendar that was more accurate than other calendars at the time. Although some changes have been made to the calendar, it is slightly more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. Compared with the Gregorian calendar, which errors by one day in about every 3226 years, the Iranian calendar needs a one-day correction in about every 141,000 years.

The Islamic Hijri calendar has a 11 leap years in a 30-year cycle. An extra day is added to the last month of the year during the Islamic leap year.
A leap day is added
During a leap year 1 day is added to the last month, making it 30 days instead of 29 days, in a leap year. This month, Dhu 'l-Hidjdja, is also referred to as the month of the Hajj – the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hijri calendar has a 30-year cycle with 11 leap years of 355 days and 19 years of 354 days. In the long term, it is accurate to about one day in 2500 years.
The leap year occurs in the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 26th and 29th years of the 30-year cycle. Leap months are forbidden by the Qur'an. The calendar is based on the Qur'an and its proper observance is a sacred duty for Muslims. It is a purely lunar calendar and contains 12 months that are based on the moon’s motion.

~ Bahá'í ~
A leap year in the The Bahá'í calendar occurs when an extra day is added in the last month. Leap years usually occur every 4 years.
Adding a leap day
The Bahá'í year begins on March 21 and is divided into 19 months of 19 days each, totaling 361 days. Four extra (intercalary) days are added to raise the number of days to 365 days to adjust the calendar.
A leap year in the Bahá'í calendar occurs when 5 days are added, instead of 4, in the last month, making it 366 days. The leap day is inserted in the days of Ayyam-i-ha, a period of intercalary days devoted to fasting, hospitality, charity and gift-giving from February 26 to March 1.
Most leap years in the Bahá'í calendar are at 4-year intervals, but 3 out of 4 years are non-leap, causing 8-year intervals at those points in time

The Hindu calendar includes an extra month, often referred to as Adhik Maas, in a leap year. Adhik Maastypically occurs once every three years or four times in 11 years.
Therefore the yearly lag of a lunar year is adjusted every three years. This adjustment allows for Hindu festivals to take place within a given time span rather than on a set day.
The Indian National Calendar and the Revised Bangla Calendar of Bangladesh organize their leap years so their leap day is close to February 29 in the Gregorian calendar.

A leap year in the Ethiopian calendar occurs when an extra day is added to the last month of the year every 4 years.
A leap day in the 13th month
The Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months, where the first 12 months each have 30 days and the 13th month has 5 days in a standard year. During a leap year, the 13th month has 6 days.

Feel free to share any leap day traditions that you or your family celebrate, enjoy the extra day everyone!


  1. Thank you! I wanted to ask what the deal is with the extra day, but was too afraid of showing my ignorance. I'm your latest fan from interactive blogging...you can find me here:



  2. Kate, I love sharing random things, and this is one that I figured most people didn't know about, Thanks for stopping by.


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