4 Ways to Spend Leap Day
The 29th of February this year is a Leap Day – that extra day that’s added to our calendars every 4 years to balance out the earth’s rotations around the sun. Due to its infrequent occurrence, this day has given rise to some strange traditions and gloomy superstitions. Here are 3 suggestions for what you can do this Leap Day based on traditions from around the world, and another alternative that we’d like to propose. Speaking of proposing…
1. Propose Marriage in Ireland and the United Kingdom (ladies only)
Image Credit: William Warby
If it wasn’t enough to have Valentine’s Day earlier in February, the loved up celebrations continue on Leap Day in the UK. In Irish tradition, women could propose to men on this day. The tradition is believed to have started in the fifth century with St. Brigid of Kildare (remember her from the pagan festival of Imbolc that takes place earlier in the month?) Brigid allegedly complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose, and his solution was that women could propose on the 29th of February every leap year. Not a particularly generous offer, if you ask us! Luckily we’re living in the twenty-first century now, when women can propose to men whenever they feel like it.
The Scots claim that the tradition in fact stems from Queen Margaret’s declaration in 1288 that a woman could propose to a man on Leap Day. Margaret apparently decreed that any man who refused a woman’s proposal on this day would be fined. What did they have to pay? A kiss, a silk dress, a pair of gloves or one pound. To emphasise the role reversal, a woman was supposed to wear men’s clothes during the proposal. We think this story is a little exaggerated, considering that Queen Margaret would have been only five years old at the time!
2. Just try to survive in the Mediterranean and Russia
Image Credit: Roman Königshofer
If you’re thinking of travelling to southern Europe or to Russia, proposing marriage is definitely not what you want to do on the 29th of February. In fact, if you’re planning to make any important life decisions, it’s probably best to wait a while, as in these places, a Leap Year is considered a year of misfortune. Many couples in Greece will avoid tying the knot during a leap year as it’s considered to be bad luck, while the Italians consider a Leap Year to be a ‘doom year’. In Russia, a Leap Year is associated with freakish weather events and bad luck. But these superstitions don’t say anything about not travelling in a Leap Year though, so we think it’s okay to visit Greece, Italy or Russia on a cambio!
3. Party in the USA
Image Credit: r. nial radshaw
If you’re feeling gloomy at all the bad news about Leap Year, here’s a more recent tradition that’s sure to cheer you up! The town of Anthony in Texas, the United States, is known as the Leap Year Capital of the World. It’s been throwing a party for people born on the 29th of February since 1988. “Leapies” from across the country – and the world – travel to the town to participate in fun activities like hot air balloon rides, square dancing and parades. Consider a cambio in the United States so you can make it along to observe the Leap Day festivities (or take part in them if you’re a “leapie” yourself!)
4. Take a ‘Leap’ Into the Unknown!
Image Credit: Peer Lawther
The GoCambio team loves these quirky Leap Year traditions and the history behind them, but we’d like to declare a new tradition. Because a Leap Day only comes around once every four years, we suggest that you use the 29th of February to do something that you wouldn’t usually do. Think of it as a chance to pick up some of those New Year’s resolutions that you haven’t gotten around to yet or face your fears. Pay a visit to your parents and let them know how much you love them, book a trip around the world, or make a commitment to do something about the future of our planet by signing the Leap Manifesto.
This Leap Day, leap into the unknown. Dare to dream big. Do something challenging, inspiring, and adventurous.
Have you been dreaming of eating your way around Italy à la Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love? As luck would have it, Italy is the birthplace of Julius Caesar, who was the founder of the Leap Year all the way back in 46BC. Coincidence? We think not. It’s the perfect time to book a trip to Italy. Especially if you’ve never cambioed before, it’s time to take a ‘leap’ and experience travel at its most meaningful. Stay for free with a local family and really immerse yourself in the Italian way of life.
Maybe you can’t get away right now but you’ve always wanted to learn how to make the perfect Italian bruschetta. Get into the kitchen with a Guest who likes to cook up a storm and you’ll be perfecting those dishes in no time.
No matter where or what it is you’ve been dreaming about, this Leap Day choose to stop dreaming and start doing.
About the Author: Clarissa Hirst is a Content Writer and Editor at GoCambio. A born-and-bred Australian, Clarissa currently calls Sweden home. She’s travelled to over 40 countries, loves learning foreign languages, and her passion is inspiring others to learn about and explore the world around them. She hopes to one day speak fluent Russian and ride the Trans-Siberian railway. You can learn more about Clarissa on her website!
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Bex Walton