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Blog > Vintage Leap Day postcards

2020 is a Leap Year, so how about a look at some old postcards illustrating one of the best-known Leap Day traditions? If you’ve never heard of this, the tradition is that on Leap Day (and only on Leap Day!) women can propose to men.

In 2012, Huffington Post rounded up this and other marriage superstitions related to Leap Day around the world: in some countries, it’s bad luck, while in Finland if the man refuses he has to pay a fine and give the poor lady enough material to make a skirt. (In times past that was a pretty significant fine, and a useful gift!)

Take a look at some of these postcards we found!

The Manhunt in 1908 The Maiden's Vow in 1908 In 1908... Careful, that's a fine specimen! Maidens are eagerly waiting, their traps enticingly bating...
My heart and money... I lay them at your feet Unsafe for a poor lone bachelor!

The Scottish tradition is that proposing women had to wear a red petticoat as a sort of warning to let men know they were going to propose… but I’m not sure how anyone could check on the petticoats of some of these ladies! We don’t think they’d let you try… (quite right, too!)

We had no idea that Leap Day postcards were a genre of their own, but we found a whole collection of them curated by Alan Mays on Flickr, as well as the others we gathered above! Do you know any other traditions or stories related to Leap Day in your country?

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33 comments so far

KoJep, Indonesia
nice postcards
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bukets, Turkey
Wonderfull postcards
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sienemien, Belgium
I didn't know about Leap Day, it's interesting and the postcards are very nice!
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zipsgal, United States of America
LOVE these!
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picketfence4, United States of America
Thank you for another dive back into history! Such beautiful cards you shared. Thank you ever so much!!!
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Gen24, United States of America
I adore these. Love the romantic tradition.
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Sterngesang, Germany
That's sooo cool!

Did you know that it was Julius Caesar who was the first to introduce the leap year? He introduced a leap day, at the time of ancient Rome, because he had noticed that the calendar year was out of phase with the solar year. Normal, since the Romans had cut the year into twelve months of 29 and 31 days and their year had 355 days. In several years, they had accumulated 90 days in advance ... The seasons were completely shifted! Suddenly, days were added here and there to readjust everything…

But sometimes the citizens who lived far away from the capital were not aware of these additions of days, so that the year 46, in particular, was a big mess! The Romans called it "the year of confusion." Two leap months were added between November and December to catch up with the whole gap at once. A year that was long, with 445 days.

In France, on February 29, we can read "La Bougie du Sapeur".
The newspaper "La Bougie du Sapeur" is a UFO editorial that only appears on February 29. It will release its eleventh number in 2020 "in the tradition of French humor", according to the description made by its editor, Viscount Jean d'Indy. The newspaper takes its name from Sapper Camember, a wacky and clever soldier, invented in the 19th century.

In the United States, the city of Anthony in Texas throws birthday festivals every leap year for people born on February 29. For several days at the end of February, a "Leap Year Birthday Festivals" welcomes people from all over the world. The idea came from two city residents who wanted a special day for their birthday.
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merlina, Germany
In a leap year there is a world upside down in Bremen - women who are not yet married at 30 must sweep the cathedral stairs and the men in turn have to clean the door handles.
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Alessia1983, Italy
Cartoline Meravigliose
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Jacque53, United States of America
What cool postcards! ‘Sterngesang’.......I love the info you put up too!
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sacdalton, United States of America
I really enjoyed this blog post. Thanks for sharing the postcards.
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greenskull, Russia
I ❤❤❤ Postcrossing!
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lichan, Taiwan
Meaningful postcard
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teamug, Germany
My birthday is on the 28th - even though my birthyear was not a leapyear - I always felt I had a narrow escape :-) - But I like the leap year, because in that year my birthday is not on the last day of the month. Somehow I like that fact. No idea why.
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melilot, France
I love those postcards!
Here in France there is a newspaper that is released each 29 february since 1980:
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Bougie_du_sapeur
I will try to buy it this year (never done before but I've heard about it since a long time).
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saikat_das, India
Excellent!
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melilot, France
Since 2008, it's the international day dedicated to rare deseases. It takes place each year, usually on 28th and on 29th for leap years (années bissextiles):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Disease_Day
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NIDUSKA, Finland
nice
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Kubrra, Turkey
Very nice postcards!
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annnkor135, Russia
Great! I ❤️ It!
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lesliemartin, Canada
Leap year is my REAL birthday!
February 29....so excited!
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Flippie, Canada
I wish that I can buy Leap year cards. I really like them. Thanks for sharing your stories.
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SophietheValiant, Kazakhstan
What a weird tradition, women should be able to propose any day of the week to men, haha
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josephvm, India
cool
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Katerinka83, Belarus
There is nice 2010 Irish-American romantic comedy Leap year. I really like it) The film stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.
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Aniuska, Spain
What such funny cards!. Stergesang's comment is pretty interesting.
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janetmay, United States of America
So cool!
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babytreese, United States of America
These are very cool!! My how things have changed! :-)
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betslets, United States of America
Love the postcards, and Sterngesang's comments made the subject of Leap Year quite worthy of declaring an international holiday. (Some of us have a tradition of taking off that day, anyway)
Hmmm...we've been through the little town of Anthony, TX (near El Paso)...will have to plan a trip that way around a Leap Year sometime. Happy Birthday to Leslie Martin and all who celebrate that day, too.
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Freund_Jan, Germany
This is so incredible: on a leap day I am to send a postcard to someone who was born on February 29th!
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tburkhart54, United States of America
These are really cool. I love vintage postcards. I just found a leap year postcard at a local antique shop.
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BevV, Zimbabwe
I love the postcards. One of the male teachers at the school where I work is a leap year baby.
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dougmv214, United States of America
I had cousins who were identical twins, one was born February 28 at 11:58 PM the other February 29 at 12:01 AM. So one year when the firstborn twin turned 16 years old, his parents brought out a birthday cake with 16 candles on it just for him. But the twin sibling born that same leap year got a birthday cake with just 4 candles on it. After he weaped because all there laughed, the parents didn't do this joke anymore, since 16 years had actually passed in his life instead of four actual birthdays.😁
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