As a leading food and drink agency, it is fair to say we think about food 365 days a year, but this year we’ll be adding an extra day as it is a leap year. Every four years, February boasts an extra day, a curious anomaly in our calendars known as ‘leap day’. While some see it merely as an additional date on the calendar and possibly the chance for women to propose (more of this later!), others view it as an opportunity to create customs, including those surrounding food and feasting. From Greek feasts to Chinese banquets, we take a look at how leap day is marked across the world…

Ireland’s Leap Day Gender Roles Reversal

In Ireland, leap day is synonymous with the temporary reversal of gender roles in courtship and marriage proposals. Legend has it that St. Bridget and St. Patrick made a deal to allow women to propose to men every four years, supposedly initiated by St. Bridget herself. This tradition, dating back to the 5th century, has sparked whimsical and playful proposals, often accompanied by lavish feasts and celebrations.

Greek Superstitions and Leap Year Weddings

Greek folklore holds its own beliefs surrounding leap years, especially when it comes to weddings. In Greek culture, tying the knot during a leap year is considered unlucky, particularly on Leap Day itself. However, some couples embrace the superstition and opt for a leap-year wedding, viewing it as an act of defiance against fate. No matter the choice, weddings during leap years often feature sumptuous banquets filled with traditional Greek delicacies, symbolising prosperity and abundance. For some delicious Greek food inspo you can read recent blogs here & here.

 Feasting on Fortune in China

In Chinese culture, leap years mark a time of heightened superstition. Leap day itself is considered an unfavourable time for major life events, including weddings and moving homes. However, it is also seen as an opportunity to ward off bad luck through feasting! (What better way I say!) Families gather to enjoy elaborate meals featuring symbolic dishes believed to bring prosperity, longevity, and good fortune in the year ahead. From whole fish symbolising abundance to dumplings signifying wealth, each dish is carefully selected to invite luck and blessings.

Taiwanese Remedy

In Taiwan, many people believe that leap years are bad luck for the elderly. However, there’s a simple remedy for this. On leap day, daughters prepare a dish of pig trotter noodles for their elderly parents. This dish is supposed to bring health and good fortune. It also combats the bad luck that the elderly may suffer during this year.

Leapers Party
“Leapers”, the term for those who are born on the 29th of February, gather in Anthony (a city on the border of Texas and New Mexico) to celebrate their birthday. Christened the Leap Year Capital of the World the city plays host to those who know how to party as let’s face it if you only get to cut a birthday cake every four years, you’re going to do it in style! The good news is Leapers and their plus ones get in for free, whilst everyone else has to pay for their buffet and wine.

Modern-Day Leap Year Feasts

From themed dinner parties to restaurant specials, food enthusiasts around the world embrace the quirkiness of leap day as another excuse to push culinary boundaries. So, as the clock ticks away towards the next leap day, why not plan a foodie celebration that you’ll be talking about for the next four years? And of course, make sure you share it with us on our socials! @jellybeanagency