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Leap Year Facts

By ResidenceLifeAssistant 06 Feb 2024

2024 is a Leap Year, which only occurs once every four years. Therefore February, we will all be happy to get one extra day, but why are they even here? Discovering the purpose of Leap Years is fascinating. 

Top 5 things that you never knew about Leap Years: 

1. What is a Leap Year: Traditionally, every four years, a Leap Year is observed to correct a discrepancy between the Gregorian calendar and the Earth's orbit. It involves adding one extra day to the end of February. Leap Days were instituted to keep our clocks and calendars in line with the solar system and make up for the quarter of a day that is lost every year as the Earth takes 365.2422 days to orbit the sun.  

If the leap years were abandoned, January would, span in the span of 700 years, tuen into a summer month in the UK and a winter month in the southern hemisphere the exact opposite of what happens now. 

2. When did it begin: The Roman calendar was updated by Julius Caesar with the assistance of Sosigenes, an astronomer from Alexandria. He was persuaded by Sosigenes to abandon their use of the lunar cycle and adopt the solar year, just like the Egyptians. 

In 46 B.C., they determined that a year was 365 and 1/4 days, so Caesar added 67 days to make up for it. This meant that instead of the new year starting in March, 45 B.C., it started on January 1. In order to maintain consistency, he said that February will gain one day every four years. But even so, the computations were off by 11 minutes! This indicated that there were an additional 10 days in the year by the middle of the 15th century. 

When the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582, 10 days were removed from the year and a new rule was introduced: unless a year is divisible by 400, only one out of every four centenary years shall be a leap year (2000 was a leap year, but 1800, 1900, and 1700 were not). Leap Seconds, yes, exist, because the Gregorian calendar is still a little off, but only by roughly one day every 3,030 years! 

3. What happens if you are born in a Leap Year: People who were born on a Leap Day might call themselves "Leaplings" or "Leapers," and they frequently celebrate their birthdays on either the 28th of February or first of March.  

On the other hand, in various regions, things aren't quite so simple; legal birthdays rely on how local law interprets certain time periods. Your birthdate of February 29th makes you one in a thousand. precisely one in 1,461 and you and Ja Rule (An American Rapper) would have the same birthday!  

4. What do people do with this extra day? : Women have been using the additional day to propose to men for marriage since the fifth century. According to legend, St. Bridget, an Irish nun, complained to St. Patrick about how long ladies had to wait for their suitors to propose. Then, it was said that St. Patrick offered ladies the opportunity to propose every four years. 

Leap Days were not recognised by English law, therefore there may have been a minor difference in the proposal dates among women in England on February 29. It was okay to defy tradition and allow women to get down on one knee on days when there was no legal status. 

5. Some other interesting ‘facts’: Tradition dictates that any man who declines a woman's proposal of marriage on February 29 must purchase her 12 pairs of gloves in many European nations, including Denmark. It's believed that the woman's discomfort at not owning an engagement ring can be concealed by the gloves. It's believed that the woman's discomfort at not owning an engagement ring can be concealed by the gloves. 

In February 29, 1692, was the first day that someone in Salem, Massachusetts, was charged with witchcraft. The Leap Year Capital of the World is the US city of Anthony, which is situated between Texas and New Mexico. The city hosts a four-day Leap Year celebration every four years, which culminates in a huge birthday celebration for all "Leaplings."