9 Ways to Celebrate Leap Day

This is a repost of an original piece I wrote for BlogHer.com. 

I’m always on a hunt for more time—to spend with family, do the laundry, read a great book, sleep—and many of my friends feel the same way. Just last week I had a conversation with a friend about how we’d like 30-hour days—with everyone else staying at 24-hours. Only then, we might feel like we really had a chance to get caught up.

leap day
Photo Credit: Leap and the Net Will Appear by Wayne Stratz via photopin (license)

When I realized 2016 was a Leap Year, I thought I had stumbled across a magical secret: a complete extra day on February 29—Leap Day—would be my opportunity to finally find more time. I’d have to share it with everyone else, of course, but it was a start.

Then, I researched what Leap Day really is. I learned that it takes 365 days and a little less than six hours to do a complete rotation of the Earth around the sun. Thus, a Leap Day every four years balances out our time by acknowledging that extra six hours each year that we haven’t been tracking. So, we’re not actually finding more time; rather, we’re catching up on the time we’ve lost over the last four years.

No wonder why we’re all so stressed out!

Regardless of how we’ve arrived at this extra day, the important questions are: How should we celebrate Leap Day? What should we do with that 24-hours?

First, when should we—in our warp speed lives—celebrate Leap Day? This year, the real Leap Day falls on February 29, but that’s a Monday—a day for school and work—so adding anything else to the schedule might not be possible. If that’s the case, consider hosting a Leap Day celebration the weekend before. Extra time is extra time, my friends; how you make it work should be what’s best for you.

Second, what should we do to commemorate the day? To kick off your planning, here are nine suggestions for how you can “leap into Leap Day”…

1. Let’s have fun: Leap Day only comes around every four years, people, so let’s make it matter. Skip school, take a day off of work, and cancel those client meetings. Do something that makes you laugh, sing, and be happy. What that is depends upon you. Perhaps it’s indulging your kid’s love of trains by riding the subway in your city from start to finish. Or, checking out the new exhibit at your local art museum with your budding artist. Catch a movie matinee, go on a hike, introduce your kids to an old school roller skating rink, or be a tourist in your own hometown. Ask your kids to brainstorm, or surprise them with something you know they’ve been longing to do.

2. Give back: A rare extra day is an excellent opportunity to enrich your community. Donate your time with a nonprofit in your area, drop off contributions to your local food bank, or shovel a neighbor’s driveway. Make this time focused outward and toward the betterment of the people around you.

3. Throw a party: Leap Day is a holiday* after all, so what better way to celebrate than by throwing a party! Embrace the “leap” theme by making frog cupcakes and Mr. Frog Floats for the kids. Entice the adults with the Leap Year Cocktail (developed in 1928, a Leap Year, of course, at the Savoy Hotel in London) and a Leap Year Cake (which has its origins in 1906, a year that, interestingly, was not a Leap Year). Put together a Lily Pad leaping game, make origami frogs, and host a scavenger hunt. For party ideas, visit my Leap Day Pinterest board.

(*Also known also as St. Oswald’s Day, Leap Day is named after Oswald, the Archbishop of York, who died February 29, 992.)

4. Get cracking: Does your heart go aflutter at the idea finally cleaning out that linen closet, or tackling the kids’ outgrown clothes? Maybe it’s the day to get your taxes ready, find that missing library book, or develop a system for all those Legos. If your inner Type A is calling, embrace it by making February 29 your day to get organized.

5. 1 + 1: What is divisible by 4, then divisible by 100, then 400? Leap Year, of course. The very premise of all this leaping is based in mathematics, so what better way to celebrate than by doing some addition and division of your own? Engage your kids in math games and watch the fun add up!

6. Capture the memories: Mark February 29 by making your very own Leap Day Time Capsule. What a sweet way to remember where you are at this point in your life, and to reflect upon where you want to be in four years. Then, place a “don’t forget to open the time capsule” reminder on your calendar for Saturday, February 29, 2020—our next Leap Day.

7. It’s all Greek to Me: Leap Day was first introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE, so I say that calls for a toga party. Wrap your family up in togas, the official garb of Romans like Caesar himself, and introduce them to the Bard. If Shakespeare’s not your thing, encourage your kids to let their inner performers break out with their own homegrown productions. Have them put on skits or impromptu dance parties with a Leap Day theme.

8. Let your heart sing: Another name for Leap Day is Sadie Hawkins Day, which is a day when women and men switch traditional roles in decision-making, specifically around love. Irish legend has it that St. Brigid and St. Patrick struck a deal that, on Leap Day, women could propose marriage to men. Supposedly this switching was designed to “rebalance” roles of men and women, kind of like how Leap Day balances out the calendar. However, in 2016, such artifice is likely no longer needed; women are increasingly, after all, speaking up for what they want, whether it’s at home or at work. But, in the spirit of the saints, Leap Day could be the day to listen to your heart. Have you been holding back sharing your feelings with a special someone? Perhaps February 29 is the day to hear what your inner voice has been saying.

9. It’s gotta be me: Let’s go back to my misguided idea that Leap Day is extra time (instead of recaptured time). Maybe the way to note Leap Day is to spend some time focusing on you. Write in your journal, take in a yoga class, or meet a friend for lunch. Sleep in, eat healthy, or get centered. Use Leap Day to “leap” ahead, to kick off the next four years in a positive, forward-thinking mindset.

How will my family celebrate Leap Day? I’ll start by introducing my kids to the concept. When I asked my son and daughter, if they were talking about Leap Day at their elementary school, their reply was, “What’s Leap Day?” (Ask them about Valentine’s Day and the 100th Day of School and they can go on and on; I feel kind of bad for Caesar.) Once they’re up to speed, we’ll note the day with a little bit of all these ideas.  We’ll make the time capsule, while wearing togas and hopping like frogs… or something like that.