What exactly is Leap Year and why does it only happen every four years? Here are the answers plus other fun facts about the extra day.
It Happens Every Four Years
The next time February 29 will exist on our calendars will be in 2020, just like the U.S. Presidential elections and the Summer Olympic Games.
History of Leap Year
The ancient Egyptians first figured out the solar year and the man-made calendar year didn’t always match up. That’s because it actually takes the earth a little longer than a year to travel around the sun—365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact.
The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four – 2016, 2020, 2024, etc. Another stipulation ruled that no year divisible by 100 would have a leap year, except if it was divisible by400. Thus, 1900 was not a leap year… but 2000 was! Go figure.
Have You Seen It?
There’s a movie starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode that features all the traditions of Leap Year.
All the Single Ladies
Women are traditionally allowed, and even encouraged, to propose to men on a Leap Year. This tradition dates all the way back to 5th Century Ireland.
You May Be 1 in 1,461
The chances of having a leap year birthday are 1 in 1,461. there are about 4 million people in the world who have been born on February 29.
Those born on Leap Year are considered “leaplings,” who celebrate their birthdays on either February 28 or March 1 on a non-Leap Year.