7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Leap Day

February 27, 2016

Great things come every four years. Not only is 2016 an election year and an Olympic year, but it’s also a leap year!

We’ve got seven facts you probably didn’t know about this odd, little extra day in February.

1. It’s Very Likely You Are Working For Free Today

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“You’re not getting paid for this.” Photo: Pixtabay

Happy Monday! If you are a salaried employee with a fixed annual income, congratulations you are making no additional money today. Most companies don’t compensate for the extra day of the year.

2. Thank The Pope For Leap Year Day

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No wonder we throw our babies at him! Photo: Pixtabay

The current calendar used around the world is Gregorian. It is very similar to Julius Caesar’s Julian calendar from 45 BC. However, the Julian calendar did not take into account the actual mathematic calculation of one solar year, which is technically 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds.

In fact, the Julian year was off by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. Although it seems like a small amount, by the 16th century it messed up the dates of the equinox by around ten days. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar system to include a leap year day every four years.

3. Traditionally, Irish Women Are Allowed To Pop The Question On Leap Day

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OH THANK GOODNESS WOMEN ARE “ALLOWED” TO DO THIS EVERY FOUR YEARS. eye-roll Photo: Pixtabay

Besides being a very forgettable Amy Adams’ romantic comedy, this tradition supposedly dates all the way back to the 5th century. Some stories credit St. Patrick while others claim it was Scotland’s Queen Margaret.

Apparently the then 5-year-old Queen came up with the rule, along with the penalty. If he refuses, he supposedly must pay a fine that ranges from one pound to a kiss, to gloves or even a silk dress.

__4. The Chance Of Being Born On A Leap Year Are 1 in 1,461 __

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It’s like winning Birthday Bingo! Photo: @pixieslechat12 / Instagram

There are currently around 4 million leap year day babies in the world. Famous leaplings include the poet Lord Byron, actress Dinah Shore, Foster the People singer Mark Foster, self-help guru Tony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule and former Calvin Klein underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr.

Because leap year only comes once every four years, in some countries, “leapers” have to have a legal birthday on either February 28 (like New Zealand) or March 1 (as in Hong Kong and most U.S. states).

5. Depending On Where You Are From, Today Is Either Lucky Or Unlucky

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Totally. Photo: Pixtabay

Many cultures believe that leap year day carries some degree of luck. In Greece, it is unlucky for couples to marry on leap day. The Chinese believe leap year babies will be difficult to raise. In both Russia and Scotland, farmers believe that leap years bring inclement weather and ruin crops.

6. There is a Leap Year Capital Of The World

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Unfortunately, they stopped pegging leap year babies as ‘worthy of celebration’ in 2012. Photo: @adamkaupert / Instagram

In 1988, two local leaplings approached their local Chamber of Commerce in Anthony, Texas about a possible festival for those born on leap day, as they only get to celebrate their actual birthdays every four years.

From 1988 to 2011, the Leap Year Festival took place, celebrated with hot air balloon rides and parades. Participants range from babies to their oldest registered leapling, a 104-year-old mother. The Governors of both Texas and New Mexico declared Anthony the “Leap Year Capital of the World,” and the rest is history.

7. One Norwegian Family Has Three Leap Year Kids

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Three in one family?! It’s a conspiracy. Photo: Pixtabay

The Norwegian Henricksen family hit the leap year lottery with three siblings, Heidi (b. 1960), Olav (b. 1964) and Lief-Martin (b. 1968) all born on leap days, and the most siblings to ever do so. Additionally, the Keogh family of Ireland and England is the only verified family with three generations born on leap year day. Talk about a family tradition!