Fun facts about Leap Day from around the globe
First, let’s talk about why we even have an extra day. The whole point of the Leap Year is to help adjust our Gregorian calendar (the 365-day calendar we all use today) to the solar calendar (which lasts 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds). Those extra hours, minutes, and seconds add up and can throw us a little off schedule. So we add the extra day in every 4 years to make sure things like spring and autumn are celebrated with some regularity each year. Although sometimes, that extra day just isn’t enough. Last year scientists called for a “Leap Second” which was added on June 30th at 11:59:60PM. This has happened 26 times since 1972.
Since this day affects just about everyone around the globe, let’s take a look at some fun facts, traditions, and celebrations from around the world.
Grab a Newspaper
Since 1980 a satirical newspaper called “La Bougie du Sapeur” (The Soldier’s Candle) has been published in France on February 29th. The paper started out as a joke among friends, but its circulation now tops 200,000 copies! Its name was inspired by a comic book character drawn by the artist Christophe, who was born on the 29th of February. The paper uses content from real news stories and puts a comic twist on them. They have also started publishing a Sunday Edition, which appears about every 28 years!
The editorial team of La Bougie du Sapeur is composed entirely of volunteers. There is no advertising, so the paper counts entirely on its circulation. Often times, the proceeds from the sale of the paper are donated to a charity.
Time to Get Married!In the past, in many European countries, Leap Day was considered the only acceptable day for a woman to propose marriage to a man. If said man refused, he must then purchase 12 pairs of gloves for the woman (to hide the fact that she isn’t engaged). In Finland, however, the refusing man must purchase the lady fabric for new skirts.
In Greece, however, marriage during a Leap Year is considered unlucky! In fact, a recent survey showed that 1 in 5 couples purposely avoided getting married in a Leap Year.
An estimated 187,000 Americans were born on Leap Day and another 4 million worldwide. The odds of being born on February 29th are 1 in 1,461 – which makes it pretty rare for one Leapling (as they are called) to meet another.
Leap Year Capital of the World
In February of 1988, the city of Anthony, Texas declared itself the “Leap Year Capital of the World” and started an international Leapling Birthday Club.
The Texas-New Mexico border town now celebrates the February 29th birthdays annually with events lasting 3-4 days, that include festivals and a parade!
Toast the Day
Created by bartender Harry Craddock at the London Savoy Hotel in 1928, the Leap Day cocktail is a the colorful cousin of the martini. We snagged the original recipe, so you can make your own cocktail to celebrate the extra day this year!
1 dash of lemon juice
1/6 Grand Marnier
1/6 Sweet Vermouth
Shake, pour, and garnish with a lemon peel!
Cheers to a fun Leap Year!