Over 2,000 years ago Julias Caesar, the leader of the Roman Empire, invented the leap year, adding an extra day to our calender every four years. The Julian calender had only one rule; that every year that was evenly divided by the number four would be considered a leap year.
His model was eventually corrected 1,500 years later to include several more rules. The year must still must be divisible by four but if it is divisible by 100 it must also be evenly divisible by 400. Because of this, certain leap years occur every three years rather than four.
So why do we need leap years anyway? The extra day keeps our Gregorian Calendar in line with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. Without an additional day in February every four years, we would lose about six hours off of our calender every year. It doesn’t sound like much, but after 100 years our calender would be off by about 24 days!
Check out some leap year fun facts below!
- Several celebrities were born on February 29th including rapper Ja Rule and singer Dinah Shore.
- In Irish tradition, February 29th is a special day set aside for women ask for a man’s hand in marriage instead of the other way around.
- On February 29, 2012, 56 countries will observe Rare Disease Day, calling for more reasearch into ailments that have no cure.
- February 29th plays a pivotal role in the fictional comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. The hero Frederic is bound to his apprenticeship until his 21st birthday, but because he is born on the 29th, technically he is much younger and won’t reach 21 until his eighties.
- The probability of having a leap day birthday is about 1 /1,461, or 0.068 percent.
- Amy Adams and Matthew Goode star in a romantic comedy entitled Leap Year about a woman hoping to propose to her boyfriend on February 29th.
- In 2004, The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated on February 29th.
- People born during a leap year are usually called leapers or leaplings.
- In Greece it is considered bad luck to get married on February. 29th.
What will you do with your extra day this year?
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