For Nasreen Rafieymehr, Friday will be unusually special, even as weddings go: she is getting married as part of an improv show on Leap Day.
For Nasreen Rafieymehr, Friday will be unusually special, even as wedding days go: she is getting married on leap day, Feb. 29.
Rafieymehr, 26, said she and her fiance, Greg Stump, wanted to tie the knot in a non-traditional way – and a wedding on stage at Improv Asylum in Boston, where the couple had their first date last August, fit the bill.
“We just were looking at dates within the next couple of months, and we realized it was a leap year and a Friday, and we thought it would be great,” Rafieymehr said. “Plus, we only have to do an anniversary every four years.”
February 29 comes up on the calendar once every four years, making it a great day for birthdays, said Jan McFarland, a registered nurse at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. She knows because she is what’s called a “leapling.”
“It’s always a point of interest or a topic of conversation – people are always making some kind of joke about it. Oh, so you’re only 4 years old, you’re only 8 years old, you know?” said McFarland, of Marshfield.
McFarland, who was born in 1952, turns 14 on Friday.
“My mother was kind of lucky because she only gave me a big birthday party every four years – her excuse for not really having to celebrate my birthday that much,” she said.
In terms of courtship, Feb. 29 has long held significance: traditionally, it was the day when women could ask men to marry them. In 1288, according to lore, Queen Margaret of Scotland declared that women were free to propose during leap years. If a man refused an offer, he was obligated to pay the woman with a kiss, a pair of gloves or money.
The town of Holbrook will celebrate its 33rd birthday this weekend. Incorporated on Feb. 29, 1872, Holbrook is one of six known U.S. communities founded on leap day, said Holbrook Historical Society President Edna Bowers. (Worcester, founded in 1848, is another.)
Holbrook’s birthday party at the William B. Dalton American Legion Post 137 on Sunday will include performances by a high school jazz band, singers, a bagpiper, and a local dance troupe, Bowers said.
Told that she and the South Shore town share the same birthday, McFarland, the Marshfield leapling, said, “I should have moved to Holbrook, I guess.”
Edward B. Colby may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this illustration
There is a tradition dating back to 5th-century Ireland – whereby women may make marriage proposals only in leap years. Supposedly, in a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland, fines were levied if the proposal was refused; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown. In some places, the tradition was restricted to female proposals on the modern leap day, Feb. 29, or the medieval leap day, Feb. 24.