Monday, Feb. 29 is a leap day, the day inserted into the calendar every four years to keep our calendar operating smoothly. This extra day makes the year 366 days long, instead of 365 days like regular years.
Why add a leap day?: Leap days are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun.The logic behind it is quite simple. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This called a tropical year. Without an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days.
Here Are Some Fun Facts About It….
- Julius Caesar introduced the idea when he ordered his astronomer, Sosigenes, to simplify the calendar. Sosigenes opted for the 365-day year with an extra day every four years to scoop up the extra hours.
- In Ireland, 29th February is called Bachelor’s Day, when women are allowed to propose to men. Queen Margaret of Scotland began the tradition in 1288. If a man refused the proposal, he would be fined with a kiss, a silk dress or 12 pairs of gloves.
- The chances of having a birthday on a leap day are about one in 1,461.
- The first warrants of the Salem witch trials were issued on February 29, 1692. The trials continued until early 1693 and resulted in the execution of 20 people and the death of seven others in jail.
- Two women have given birth to three leap day babies, according to the New York Daily News. The Henriksen family from Norway had their children on leap days in 1960, 1964 and 1968. The most recent family to tie the record is the Estes family from Utah. Their children were born in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
- The eighth premier of Tasmania, James Milne Wilson, was born on a leap day and died on a leap day in the 1800’s, according to the World Heritage Encyclopaedia.
- In order to gain the trust of the indigenous people of Jamaica, Christopher Columbus used the lunar eclipse on February 29, 1504, to trick them. The local chiefs had stopped helping his crew with the food and provisions they had been supplying. Columbus warned them that God was going to punish them by painting the moon red. During the eclipse, Columbus said God would end the punishment if they cooperated. The chiefs capitulated and agreed to give them supplies, and saw that the lunar eclipse had ended.
- One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.
- In 1960, the 5.7Mw Agadir earthquake shook Morocco. Its maximum perceived intensity was X (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. Between 12,000-15,000 people, about a third of the city’s population of the time, were killed and another 12,000 injured with at least 35,000 people left homeless, making it the most destructive and deadliest earthquake in Moroccan history.
- In Russia it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather patterns and a greater risk of death all round.
- In Taiwan, married daughters traditionally return home during the leap month as it is believed the lunar month can bring bad health to parents. Daughters bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune.