Leap Year Puts February 29 Back On The Calendar
Every four years, February 29 makes its return to help us harmonize our calendar with the solar calendar. This added day allows our calendar to synchronize with the Earth’s revolution around the sun, a process that takes around 365¼ days, or more specifically, 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. Without leap year, our Gregorian calendar would be off by around six hours every year, thus making up a full day every four years.
In Ireland and Britain, women may propose to their significant others only during leap years.
Even though leap years come around only once every four years, they are fascinating to many people. Keep reading for some fun and interesting facts about leap year.
Leap Year History
Leap year began under the rule of Julius Caesar in the Roman Empire more than 2000 years ago. Initially, any year divisible by four was deemed a leap year, but eventually, the Gregorian calendar corrected the introduction of too many leap years.
The Gregorian calendar requires three criteria in determining a leap year:
- Leap years are evenly divisible by 4.
- If the year is divisible by 100, it is not a leap year unless –
- The year is also divisible by 400.
- For example, the year 2000 was a leap year and 2400 will be, but 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not be Leap years.
Leap Year Traditions and Folklore
The return of leap year every four years inspires traditions for many cultures and individuals. Here are some fun traditions from across the world.
- In Ireland and Britain, women may propose to their significant others only during leap years.
- A law by Queen Margret of Scotland in 1288 held that men refusing marriage as proposed by their significant others suffered fines with compensation to the women in the form of a single rose, pair of leather gloves, and a kiss.
- In Finland, if a man refuses a marriage proposal on February 29, he must buy the woman fabric for a skirt.
- In Greece, it is considered to be unlucky to wed during a leap year, and many couples avoid doing so.
- In France, the satirical newspaper, La Bougie du Sapeur, is published only on February 29.
- The Leap Year Baby Honor Society welcomes those born on leap day to share stories about having a birthday only once every four years.
Leap Year Birthdays
For many people, leap year doesn’t truly impact our day-to-day life. The intercalary day may cause the day of the week for holidays like Christmas or our birthdays to shift by a day in that particular year, for example, pushing the date out to Sunday instead of Saturday as it may fall in a typical year. Where things get interesting is in cases of people born on February 29, also known as leap day.
Most of us have creatively envisioned the fun it would be to have a leap day birthday. Would we celebrate on February 28 or on March 1? Perhaps both. And what fun it would be as our friends and family members celebrate birthdays as they get older, with us coyly being able to claim only a quarter of our age. It’s fun to imagine having a birthday on leap day.
Here are a few interesting facts about leap day birthdays.
- If you were born on February 29, you may be called a “leapling,” “leaper,” or a “leap-year baby.”
- Some 200,000 Americans are said to be leap-year babies, with around 5 million estimated worldwide.
- According to the law of averages, a person’s chance of being born on leap day is said to be 1 out of 1,461 (four years at 365 days apiece plus 1 leap day).
- Birth certificates and many government agencies recognize February 29 as an accepted birth date.
- Some companies may not support February 29 as an actual date, forcing leaplings to choose between February 28 and March 1.
- The town of Anthony, TX and the town of Anthony, NM share a state border as well as the joy of hosting The Worldwide Leap year Festival and Leap Day Birthday Party, which this year will run from Thursday, February 25 through Monday, February 29. (For more information, see facebook.com/leapyearcapital.)
Things to Do on Leap Year Day
The novelty of celebrating February 29 only once every four years can fuel our desire to do something special when leap year finally does arrive. Here are some ideas of things you can do on leap day or simply during leap year.
- Host a party with a leap year theme; perhaps a playful frogs theme for kids or a fun Quantum Leap theme for adults.
- Honor the tradition or just make it a special day and propose!
- Create a leap year time capsule with your family, including a few photos and a list of everyone’s favorites at this current moment. Plan to dig up the time capsule and do it over again in another four years.
- If you have young kids, teach them to play Leap Frog or do a frog-themed arts and crafts project.
- If you or someone you know wants to celebrate in grand style, make the trip for The Worldwide Leap year Festival and Leap Day Birthday Party in Anthony, TX and Anthony, NM.
- If you want to stay closer to home, say, on your couch, plan to watch the romance comedy flick, Leap Year, featuring Amy Adams, Adam Scott, and Matthew Goode. Adams’ character plans to propose to her boyfriend inspired by Irish tradition.
No matter what you decide to do, enjoy something special and memorable with the ones you love on leap day. And even if you don’t do something exciting or out of the ordinary, don’t worry. You’ll get another chance in 2020.