So… what exactly is a Leap Year?
2020 is a leap year. This is a year in which an extra day is added to the calendar. While an ordinary year has 365 days, a leap year has 366 days. The extra day is added to the end of February which otherwise has 28 days. This extra 29th day, called a leap day, will fall on the same day of the week as the first day of the month.
Why do Leap Years occur?
Our 12 month calendar is designed to align with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth around 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds — to circle once around the sun. The calendar we rely on only has 365 days, so if we didn’t add in an extra day to our shortest month about every four years, we would lose almost six hours every single year. This may sound insignificant but this means that after a century, our calendar would be off by 24 days. The concept of the leap year was first introduced in 45 BC in the time of Roman ruler Julius Caesar. Originally the leap day was added on February 24 but eventually moved to February 29.
Here are some strange but fun facts from around the world:
1. It’s okay for a woman to propose to a man on February 29.
Let’s hold up just a moment here! We are well aware that in modern times, women can do whatever they like, whenever they like but historically February 29th is the day to turn the tables and break with tradition. The custom has been attributed to various historical figures including St. Bridget, who is said to have complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitor to propose. In Denmark, is man refuses a woman’s proposal on Leap Day, he must give her 12 pairs of gloves. (That’s a lot of gloves!)
2. Married women in Taiwan traditionally return home to their parents homes during the leap month.
Taiwanese superstitions say that the lunar month can bring bad health to parents. Daughters bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune.
3. In Greece, leap years are considered to bring bad luck and people are advised to avoid weddings and certain ceremonies.
Traditionally, Greeks believed that Leap Years were bad luck for weddings and engagements and that children born in Leap Years would suffer rocky romances.
4. Astrologers believe that people born on February 29 have exceptional talents and personalities, a reflection of their rare birth date.
February 29 babies are often called “Leaplings” or “Leapers.” Most don’t wait every four years to celebrate their birthdays, but instead mark their birthday on February 28th or March 1st. About 4.1 million people around the world have been born on February 29, and the chances of having a leap birthday are one in 1,461. Interestingly, when 29th February is entered into a majority of websites it comes up as an invalid birth date.
5. Famous Leaplings.
Famous folks born in Leap Years include poet Lord Byron, composer Gioacchino Rossini, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, jazz musician Jimmy Dorsey, actors Dennis Farina and Antonio Sabato Jr., rapper Ja Rule, Australian comedian Frank Woodley and former Newcastle footballer Darren Ambrose.
So there you have it! Be it lucky or not, let’s hope 2020 brings nothing but good fortune your way!
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