February 29th is one of those things we don’t think much about, partly because it only shows up every 4 years and partly because no one really understands why it exists or how it works (I think).
And while there’s no getting around the first reason, maybe we can clear up some questions surrounding its existence – knowledge is power, after all!
7. At least one person we know of was born – and died – on a leap day.
In the 1800s, James Milne Wilson died on February 29, 1880.
He’d been born 68 regular years earlier, but died on his official 17th birthday.
6. A simple trick for calculating the next one.
If the last two digits of the year are divisible by 4 (2016, 2020, 2024), then it’s a leap year – except century years. In their case, the number must be divisible by 400 to qualify.
Fun Fact for U.S. people – leap years are almost always election years.
5. February 30th only exists in Sweden and Hobbiton.
In 1712, Sweden added an extra leap day to help catch up their outdated Julian calendar with the new Gregorian calendar.
The Hobbits, as well, celebrate February 30th, since all of their months are 30 days long.
4. Apparently, the only thing weirder than an extra day every four years is a woman proposing marriage to a man.
The British wrote a play joking that the only thing weirder than a leap year was “a day when women should trade their dresses for breeches and act like men.” Feminists chose to be inspired instead of tickled, and as early as the 1700s women were using the day to propose to the men in their lives.
Now, we celebrate as Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins’ Day, and you may have seen the concept pop up in the movie Leap Year (which is better than you might think!).
3. You can celebrate with an official cocktail.
The Leap Day Cocktail was invented by pioneering bartender Harry Craddock at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928, and contains 1 dash lemon juice, 2/3 gin, 1/6 Grand Marnier, 1/6 sweet vermouth.
You shake and serve, garnishing with a lemon peel.
2. The Salem witch trials are connected to leap day.
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Leap day has always had a negative connotation for some, and the first warrants for arrest in the trials went out on February 29, 1962.
1. It’s lucky…or unlucky, depending on who you ask.
An old Scottish aphorism says that “leap year was ne’er a good sheep year,” and the superstition that leap days are bad luck has been around for a long time. On the other hand, some people think the opposite, for various reasons.
I guess, like with everything, life is what you make of it!
Alright… commentary time! I honestly had no idea about most of these, did you?
Are you interested in leap year? Are you a leap year baby? I think it would be pretty nice to only age one year for every four, how about you?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!