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Leap Year 2024: Greek Superstitions About Weddings

Leap year 2024
A Greek superstition says the wedding in 2024 may end in divorce. Credit: suendercafe,  CC BY-SA 2.0.

Many Greek couples will wait until 2025 to marry because this year is a leap year. If you believe in ancient superstitions, people should avoid getting married in 2024 because it is considered bad luck to tie the knot during a leap year.

In Greece, couples often choose not to marry during a leap year, because, according to ancient tradition, there is a good chance that the wedding will end in divorce.

As if that’s not bad enough, there’s also a superstition that divorced couples who are separated during a leap year will never find happiness again in their lives.

It has traditionally been believed by some that weddings and even engagements celebrated during a leap year will end badly, either as a result of divorce or even widowhood.

People born on February 29th who are also known as leaplings will finally get to celebrate their birthdays on their exact birthdate. For leap day babies, being born on February 29th may mean four times fewer birthdays. However, some also see it as the key to eternal youth.

Why do we have leap years?

The Earth takes about 365.24 days to revolve around the sun. Before Roman rule, Western peoples used a 355-day calendar with one extra month added every two years to compensate for this irregularity.

During the first century BC, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar ordered that the calendar system be simplified to synchronize the year with the seasons. Hence, the official length of the year was changed to 365 days, plus one extra day every four years.

Pope Gregory XIII later perfected this system in 1582, forming the Gregorian calendar which we still use today.

The origins of leap year superstitions

However, simply adding one more day to February was not considered a good thing at all by superstitious Romans. February was known as the month of the dead, and the Romans believed that Hades would roam the Earth that month.

One extra day of that dreaded month just meant another walk of the god of the underworld on Earth as well as more death and suffering.

After the conquest of Greece by the Romans, this superstition was passed on to Greeks, and leap years are still regarded as “bad luck years” in the culture. If one is married during a leap year, they are seen as connecting the marriage to some kind of misfortune.

The same superstition would apply to the beginning of a relationship, a new job agreement, or a contract signed during a leap year.

Other leap year traditions

An Irish tradition has it that St. Brigid, the patron saint of Kildare, struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men rather than the other way around once every four years on leap years.

One reason for this was reportedly that she believed many men were too shy to propose, and this would allow their lady loves to seal the deal without the young women having to wait forever to give their hand in marriage.

This is also believed to have been introduced to “balance” the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way that a leap day every four years balances the calendar.

However, on the other hand, it was also believed by certain Europeans that if a man refused the proposal of a woman during a leap year, he would then have to buy her twelve pairs of gloves.

In Scotland, there exists a belief that people who are born on a leap day will experience a life filled with hardships. Overall, some even consider leap years bad years for farmers.

Some reports of superstitions linked to the year posit that the number of deaths also suddenly rises, and many people die in that particular year.

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