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Spanish phrase of the day: Año bisiesto

Spanish phrase of the day: Año bisiesto
Photo: Flickr
You might well hear this phrase in the next few days.

Why do I need to know año bisiesto?

Well to be honest you probably won't be using this too often – only every four years in fact.

What does it mean?

It means leap year, a year that contains 366 days instead of the usual 365 days. And it's a phrase you might be hearing over the next few days as 2020 is a leap year – Saturday marks the rare day of February 29th.

Unlike in the UK and Ireland, where it is traditional for women to propose to men on this day, there are no romantic traditions associated with the date in Spain.

But if you are brave enough to pop the question, (although seriously girls, it’s 2020 not 1920, so what are you waiting for?) bear in mind that it is not considered an auspicious day in Spain.

In fact Spain considers the leap year as a whole, and the itself day to be bad luck.

What do the Spanish say about it?

A few Spanish proverbs sum it up:

“Año bisiesto, año siniestro” – leap year, sinister year

“Año bisiesto y año de pares, año de azares”  – leap year and even year, random year

“Año bisiesto, ni casa, ni viña, ni huerto, ni puerto” – Leap year, no home, nor vineyard, nor orchard, nor port.

Happy Birthday Mr President!

Although you may consider it bad luck for those born on February 29th who only get to celebrate on their actual birth date every four years, it hasn’t done Spain’s Prime Minister any harm.

Yes, Pedro Sanchez was indeed born on February 29th in 1972 which makes him the world’s youngest serving Prime Minister at only 11.


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