Leap day 2020

Jump into these fun facts about leap day

Leap day is almost here! How much do you know about this mysterious extra day that only comes around once every four years? We’ve pulled together some interesting facts just in time for Feb. 29!

What is leap year anyway?
Every four years, an extra day is added to the Gregorian calendar in order to synchronize it with the astronomical seasons. It actually takes the earth 365.25 days to orbit the sun. Without an extra day on Feb. 29 nearly every four years, our calendars and seasons would be out of sync1. After three centuries, Jan. 1 would come in the fall. After six centuries, it would land in the summer2.

Birthdays
The chances of being born on leap day are one in 1,4613. People born on leap day are often called "leaplings" or "leapers." There are about 5 million leaplings in the world4.

Famous leaplings
Ja Rule (rapper)
Antonio Sabato Jr. (actor)
Superman and Captain Marvel (DC Comics superheroes)
Jessie T. Usher (actor)

Not really every four years
Contrary to popular belief, leap year doesn’t happen every four years. Century years that are not evenly divisible by 400 are not leap years. In other words, 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be leap years, but 2400 will be2.

Folklore
Long ago, leap day was known as “ladies day” because it was the one day when women were free to propose to men. Today’s Sadie Hawkins Day is based on this same tradition1.

Leap year events1

  • The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620)
  • The Titanic sank (1912)
  • Rome burned (64)

Leap day events5

  • The first arrest warrants in the Salem witchcraft trials were issued (1692)
  • Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind” (1940)

1 Old Farmer’s Almanac
2 NBC
3 BBC
4 USA Today
5 MSN

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WBTL-0803 (Feb. 20)

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