Leap Day: An Extra Gift from God

It is 2024, known among calendar enthusiasts as Leap Year when an extra day is added to the end of the month of February. Selecting February for the Leap Year and adding an extra day to the calendar dates back to the time of Julius Caesar, who reformed the Roman calendar inspired by the Egyptian calendar. And that means that Leap Day turns up on February 29 and happens only every four years.

According to historians, perhaps only five million people in the whole world were born on February 29th. Thus, such people are called “Leaplings” and only celebrate their birthday every four years.

This very special day that only happens every four years has inspired countless customs and traditions. Apparently in the fifth century in Ireland, Saint Bridget complained to Saint Patrick that women were not permitted to propose to their sweethearts. According to the follow-up legend, Saint Patrick stated that February 29th should be the time women could propose to men.

Of course, women may want to do that, but both men and women can leap into numerous activities on Leap Day, even if much of the day is spent in an office. Consider all the great fun one can have:

  • Start the day with a bountiful breakfast, from waffles or pancakes, to French toast and a vegetable quiche.
  • Head to the gym or the spa and pamper yourself with swimming laps or lounging in a hot tub. Or go to a water park and zoom down the slides.
  • Hop into your car and take a trip into nearby nature and enjoy peace and quiet. Or head to a local zoo or farm to see animal and pet the friendly ones.
  • Go to the local library and pick out an intriguing novel or a mystery book.
  • If you have children, entertain them by playing leap frog: frogs seemingly are associated with this day.
  • Friend or family member have a birthday near this day? Plan a cheerful party to celebrate.

Most importantly, however, as Laura Dunn reminds us on her website (https://www.boundless.org/blog/how-to-celebrate-leap-day) Leap Day, like every day, should remind people that God created the universe and gave man life itself. And “Second, Leap Day gives us a fun day to enjoy, reminding us that every day — extra or not — is a gift from God.”

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Makes about 2 dozen

(adapted from Jane Butel)

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, preferably Mexican

2 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting cookie

Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside. Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Fold in the flour and pecans until well incorporated. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Form the chilled dough into 1-inch-round balls and place onto the cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until just golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies for about 5 minutes, then toss them in a bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Cool them completely on a rack.

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A convert to Catholicism, Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, restaurant critic, and cookbook author, who is passionate about every aspect of the food world — from interviewing chefs to supporting local farmers and to making the connection between food and faith. Her latest work is Cooking with the Saints.

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