Search icon


23rd Feb 2024

Proposing and pig trotters: Leap Year traditions from around the world

Anna Martin

leap year

The extra day that comes with a Leap Year is creeping up

While we all know the age-old traditions that crop up on this additional day every four years – like women popping the question to their partners – there are so many other traditions you may not have heard of.

So, before you decide to go running to your local jewellers, maybe take inspiration from some of these global rituals before you go committing to someone.

Leap Year baby festival in the States

leap year leap day
Credit: Getty

If you’re one of those leap-day babies, you might want to start looking at cheap flights state-side.

A small town called Anthony on the Texas-New Mexico border takes celebrating the day very seriously – like throwing a whole festival seriously.

Anyone born on that bonus day in February can travel from around the globe and join their fellow Leapers.

The inaugural leap-day festival was in 1988 and was created by neighbours, Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis, who both share the rare birthday.

Pig trotters noodles in Taiwan

leap year leap day
Credit: Getty

Leap years are not an auspicious time for old people in Taiwan. In fact, the belief is that they are more likely to die.

To increase their chance of survival, daughters return home to cook up pig trotter noodles for their parents. Tasty, filling and hopefully will bring good health and fortune.

Read the La Bougie du Sapeur newspaper in France

leap year leap day
Credit: La Bougie du Sapeur newspaper

First published in 1980 by friends Jacques de Buisson and Christian Bailly, La Bougie du Sapeur is a satirical French newspaper that only comes out every four years, hitting the newsstands on February 29th.

The name translates as Sapper’s Candle, and it is inspired by a character in an old French comic strip who was born on Leap Day.

Though it’s the least frequently published newspaper in the world, when it does come out it sells around 150,000 copies, more than most of the daily newspapers in France.

Don’t get married in Greece

leap year leap day
Credit: Getty

Though for a lot of us, we think of Leap Day as the time to pop the question, in Greece, you definitely won’t be making any trips down the aisle.

According to superstition, couples that get married in a leap year are more likely to divorce. Plus those that get divorced in a Leap Year are said not to find happiness for the rest of their lives.

So maybe just skip out on anything that has to do with making a big commitment?

Birch trees in Germany

Credit: Getty

In the south of Germany, there’s an age-old tradition where a boy who has fallen in love leaves a small liebesmaie or in English, a birch tree, decorated in ribbons, on the doorstep of his crush on May Day.

During a leap year, the girls leave them at the doorstep of the boy of their dreams instead. 

Gloves on in Denmark if you refuse a proposal

Credit: Getty

In Denmark, a man who refuses a proposal during a leap year has to give the woman who asked 12 pairs of gloves, supposedly to hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

In Finland, the blow of a refusal has to be softened by enough fabric to make a skirt.