- Julius Caesar introduced the idea of Leap Years when he ordered his astronomer, Sosigenes, to simplify the calendar. It takes Earth 365.242 days to orbit the sun, so Sosigenes opted for the 365-day year with an extra day every four years to scoop up the extra hours. But, he created too many leap years. Every 400 years, there are three extra days, so to compensate, centuries must be divisible by 400 to count as leap years. Years like 1700, 1800 and 1900 are only 365 days long, rather than 366.
- The chances of having a birthday on a leap day are about one in 1,461.
- Leap year babies, called leaplings, are said to have unusual talents by astrologers.
- 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.
- Even more rare, the eighth premier of Tasmania, James Milne Wilson, was born on a leap day and died on a leap day in the 1800s, according to the World Heritage Encyclopedia.
- In Ireland, 29 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 a kiss, a silk dress or 12 pairs of gloves.
- One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.
- 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.
- 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.
A happy birthday also goes out to my wonderful Aunt, and proud leapling, who celebrates her 15th birthday this year! You’re most definitely 1 in 1,461. Love you!