As you all know by now, we love the fun facts and traditions that make each holiday tradition special! We figured that a leap year is pretty special so we went on a hunt to find out some history and traditions behind the leap year!
A leap year has 366 days, why you ask? Well, the ancient Egyptians figured out that the solar year and the man made calendar year didn’t always match up! The Earth actually takes a little more than a year to travel around the sun – 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds if you really want to get technical! As the hours accumulated over the centuries, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, over time the practice became more or less official.
The Romans first designated February 29th as a leap day but in the 16th century the Gregorian calendar fine tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four. We still follow this now, in 2012!
Some of the other facts about leap years include
- The “rules” state that no year divisible by 100 would have a leap year, except if it was divisible by 400 yet, 1900 was not a leap year but 2000 was – who says rules can’t be broken?!
- If you were born under the sign of Pisces on February 29th you have unusual talents – according to astrologers
- 56 countries around the world will observe Rare Disease Day on February 29th 2012 calling for more research into ailments that have no known cure
- The Gregorian calendar was first adopted in Italy, Poland, Portugal & Spain in 1582 – that year they dropped 10 days in October
- In the U.K. & America, the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in 1752 – they dropped 11 days
- Sweden & Finland had a “double” leap year in 1712 creating February 30th. This was done because the dropped the leap year in 1700 & needed to add an extra day to be in synch with the Julian calendar
- The Julian calendar (between the years 1901 and 2099) is 13 days ahead of the Gregorian calendar because too many leap years were added.
- Leap years that share the same day of the week for each date repeat only every 28 years
Leap years provide us with some crazy age old traditions, superstitions and folklore! Here’s some of our favorites!
- Leap days resulted in social customs turned upside down! February 29th became a “no man’s land” without legal jurisdiction!
- A woman may propose to a man in a leap year – this tradition has dated back to the 5th century beginning in Ireland
- In 1288 Queen Margaret of Scotland declared that on February 29th a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she fancied. Men who refused the proposal were fined with a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves to be given to the rejected lady. Some women were know to fund their entire wardrobes by proposing to a lot of men they knew would reject them.
- Leap day plays a role in “The Pirates of Penzance” comic opera where the hero realizes his apprenticeship binds him until his 21st birthday but since his birthday falls on February 29th technically he won’t reach his 21st birthday until he is in his eighties!
- People born on leap year’s day are called leaplings
- Anthony, Texas is the self proclaimed leap year capital of the world. Each year this town holds a festival and leap year birthdays are celebrated with hot air balloon rides. People from all over the world travel here to celebrate their special day in style! (I wonder if they have bouncy castles too???)
- Chances of having a leap year birthday are 1 in 1461
- 4 million people in the world have been born on Feb. 29th
So, if this is your “real” birthday year, be sure to celebrate it in style and don’t forget to show off your unusual talents too!
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