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Which year was the first leap year?

Which year was the first leap year?

From the Wikipedia article on leap years, it appears that calendar systems that predated the Romans accounted for leap days, but do we know which calendar was the first to introduce a leap day, and if so, which year in human history was truly the first leap year?


Julian calendar was introduced in 45 BC. Leap years are those whose number is divisible by 4. However, there is a catch here. Of course Julius did not count the (negative) years BC (as we do).

(There is a joke: "Archeologists found a coin with the date inscribed: 45 BC":-)

To preserve the pattern of divisibility by 4, one needs to count from zero. But historians do not like zero, so in our common count year 1 is preceded by year 1 BC. (Which is more reasonable to call 0). So what is commonly known as 45 BC is really year -44. Which is divisible by 4. So this year was the first leap year.

By the common count (used by historians) it is 45 BC.

Source: Wikipedia.


10 Timely Facts About Leap Years

Quick question: What are the chances a given person will be born on February 29, a.k.a. a leap day or leap year day? Depending on who you ask (and what century it is), the odds are either one in 1461 or one in 1506. In short, the answer is complicated—just like a lot of other things about this curious calendar date.


List of Leap Years

The standard calendar followed around the world is the Gregorian calendar. It has 12 months with 30 or 31 days out of which February is the only month that has 28 or 29 days. If there are 29 days in a year, it is called a 'leap year'. This Buzzle article provides a list of leap years from the year 1800 to 2400.

The standard calendar followed around the world is the Gregorian calendar. It has 12 months with 30 or 31 days out of which February is the only month that has 28 or 29 days. If there are 29 days in a year, it is called a ‘leap year’. This Buzzle article provides a list of leap years from the year 1800 to 2400.

It is believed that people born on February 29 have unusual talents and personalities that reflect their special status. On the other hand, the Chinese believe that leap year babies are unlucky and difficult to raise.

The reformed Julian calendar, now known as Gregorian calendar, is followed all over the world today. It has two types of years, the common year and the leap year. The common years are years that have 365 days, but a leap year has an extra or intercalary day that adds one day to the year thus having a total of 366 days.

This extra day is added to the year to synchronize the calendar year with the solar year. This means that it tries to match the length of time the earth requires to complete its orbit around the sun, that is, 365¼ days. The solar year is about 11 minutes less than 365¼ days in length. Therefore, to compensate the discrepancy, the extra day or leap year is omitted three times every four hundred years.

  • Martis, named after Mars, the Roman god of war
  • Aprilis, derived from the Latin word aperite, meaning ‘to open’, just as the flowers open during this month.
  • Maius, named after the mother of Mercury, Maia.
  • Junius, named after the queen of gods, Juno

The Latin numbers were used to derive the names from the fifth months onwards like:

  • Quintilis
  • Sextilis
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

As this calendar proved to be inaccurate compared to the solar year, King Numa added two extra months to the year and brought the number of days to 355 with Janaruis, named after Janus, the two-faced god and Febuarius, derived from Febura, a Roman feast. This calendar still had many problems and could not be rectified even by adding extra months. This confusion was cleared by another Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. He introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BCE. He tasked the best astronomers and geographers to correct the calendar. They calculated and concluded that the year should have 365¼ days. This could be made possible by following a cycle of three years with 365 days and followed by one leap year of 366 days. He added 30 and 31 days to consecutive months. Thus, March has 31 days, April 30 days, May 31 days, and so on. January, the month near to the winter solstice, was made the first month of the year. He added only 29 days in the month of February in a common year, and the intercalary day was inserted in February once every four years. Julius Caesar was honored by the Roman Senate by renaming Quinitis as ‘Julius’ (now July).

After the death of Julius Caesar, the priest made a mistake and started to add leap years every three years. It was corrected by Emperor Augustus in 8 BCE. Augustus too was honored by the Romans by renaming Sextilis as ‘Augustus’. Emperor Augustus, was not happy with his month having fewer days than the month of Caesar. He therefore, added an extra day in his month making it 31 days. Thus, one day was subtracted from February, making it 28 days long in a common year, and 29 days long during the leap years. This Julian calendar was followed without any change for many centuries.

But, this calendar still had flaws. The average year was of 365.25 days long and the solar year length is 365.242216 days. This made the Julian calendar 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer. This little extra added up over the centuries, and led to the vernal equinox to fall on March 11, rather than March 21, during the 16 th century. Thus, Pope Gregory XII moved the date by 11 days and made an exception to the rules of leap years. Now, according to the new rule, a century is a leap century only if it is divisible by 400. Thus, the average length of a Gregorian year is now 365.2425 days. The following table gives a list of leap years from the 1800s till the 2400s.

1801 – 2100
1804 1904 2004
1808 1908 2008
1812 1912 2012
1816 1916 2016
1820 1920 2020
1824 1924 2024
1828 1928 2028
1832 1932 2032
1836 1936 2036
1840 1940 2040
1844 1944 2044
1848 1948 2048
1852 1952 2052
1856 1956 2056
1860 1960 2060
1864 1964 2064
1868 1968 2068
1872 1972 2072
1876 1976 2076
1880 1980 2080
1884 1984 2084
1888 1988 2088
1892 1992 2092
1896 1996 2096
2000
2101 – 2400
2104 2204 2304
2108 2208 2308
2112 2212 2312
2116 2216 2316
2120 2220 2320
2124 2224 2324
2128 2228 2328
2132 2232 2332
2136 2236 2336
2140 2240 2340
2144 2244 2344
2148 2248 2348
2152 2252 2352
2156 2256 2356
2160 2260 2360
2164 2264 2364
2168 2268 2368
2172 2272 2372
2176 2276 2376
2180 2280 2380
2184 2284 2384
2188 2288 2388
2192 2292 2392
2196 2296 2396
2400

The Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752 in Great Britain. Thus, leap years are those that are divisible by 4 and leap centuries are those centuries that are divisible by 400. The chances of gaining one extra day will occur after around 3,300 years in the current Gregorian calendar. If you are wondering when is the next leap year, then according to the above list of leap years, 2016 will be the next leap year. You must have noticed the blank spaces and are wondering if the year 1900 was a leap year or not? Or even the coming years 2100, 2200, and 2300 will be leap years or not? Well, the answer is no! This is because they are divisible by 100 and not 400.

We hope you have understood what exactly a leap year is and the history behind it. Here’s a short poem dedicated to leap years by an anonymous poet:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

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Hellenic astronomers, Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory

Hellenic astronomers added the missing quarter day to the Egyptian calendar by adding an extra (leap) day every four years, but most people ignored it. The calendar with a leap day was finally adopted by the Romans under Julius Caesar in 46 BCE with the first leap year added in 45 BCE. But errors in applying the rule in the following years (priests thought Caesar meant a leap year every third year!) resulted in restarting the system in 8 CE, with leap years every four years thereafter. Since then, the calendar has had one major modification, when Pope Gregory, in 1582 CE, on the advice of astronomers, dropped the leap day in years that end in two zeros unless the year is also divisible by 400 (for example, 2000 was a leap year but 2100 will not be).


Do You Know the Leap Year These Historical Events Happened?

It's our first leap year since . 2016! Did you miss it? Eh, chances are you probably wouldn't have given it a second thought . until you got to Feb. 29 and realized it was still February and not March. It's OK we hadn't given it much thought either.

The Gregorian calendar (that's the one most everyone on the planet follows today) determines leap years by the following criteria:

1. The year is evenly divisible by 4.
2. The year is not evenly divisible by 100.
3. Or, the year is not evenly divisible by 100, but is divisible by 400.

Confused? Does it help if we throw in the bit about needing leap years to help keep our calendar aligned with the Earth's revolution around the Sun? Yeah, we didn't think so.

Let's face it: Leap year? It's kind of weird. People born on Feb. 29 only have an "official" birthday once every four years. That can make a grown man of 28 really only 7 years old. Those of us who work salaried jobs give our companies an extra "free" day during a leap year. And, well, if you happen to be incarcerated serving a year's sentence during a leap year? Congrats, you get to serve one more day.

But, it is just one day and the year goes on. And, some pretty significant things have happened in those leap years. Do you think you can name these monumental events that happened in these 366-day years? Hop through these leap year trivia questions - let's go!


Weird Leap Year Facts

My friend Sara will celebrate her 6th birthday this year. She was born on February 29, 1996, and will soon become a women’s health nurse practitioner in Nashville. Her 6th birthday!? Sara is one of approximately 4.1 million people around the globe born on the extra day of a leap year: the 366-day years that occur basically but not exactly every four years (more on this below). However, this peculiar occurrence is more than just an extra day on the calendar. Let’s break down what a leap year actually is and wow you with some quirky facts and traditions.

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The History of Leap Year

Leap years keep our calendar on track. One solar year — the amount of time it takes our planet to circle the sun — takes roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. Those extra five-or-so hours nobody ever mentions? Those are why we have leap years. We rely on a Gregorian calendar with only 365 days, so if we didn’t add an extra day to our shortest month about every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After a century, our calendar would be off by 24 days.

What some don’t realize is when Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year around 46 B.C., he overcorrected. His rule — any year evenly divisible by four — created too many leap years. The math wasn’t tweaked adequately until more than 1,500 years later. Now, there’s a leap year every year that is divisible by four, except for years that are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400. The added rule about centuries (versus just every four years) was an additional fix to make up for Julius Caesar’s overcorrection. Here’s an example: 2020 is a leap year, 2024 is a leap year, but once we arrive at 2100, we skip that leap year because 2100 is divisible by 100 and not by 400. The next leap year will be in 2104.

What You Haven’t Considered About February 29 Birthdays

People born on a leap year day — February 29 — are often called “leaplings” or “leapers.” But instead of waiting every four years to celebrate their birthdays, most blow out their candles on February 28 or March 1. “I always celebrate on February 28 — my birthday isn’t in March!” my friend Sara says. “I remember being confused that my birthday only came once every four years, but in kindergarten, my parents came to my class birthday party and taught everyone about leap day. From then on, I felt pretty special. Luckily my parents always made it a big deal.”

I asked her if she’d encountered any other oddities growing up a leap day baby. She responded with a laugh, saying, “Some people would ask me if I had to wait until I was ‘actually’ 16 to get my license.” The DMV allowed it even though she was only 𔄜.” “You do have to wait until March 1 to drink legally and get your license, though,” Sara explains.

While Sara admittedly loves her rare birthday, some leap year day babies are very serious about educating society about this day. Leapyearday.com is a fabulous online resource and society of leap year day enthusiasts. Some of its goals are surprisingly interesting:

  1. To connect with fellow Leap Year Day babies
  2. To stop hospitals from changing the birth date on birth certificates
  3. To get worldwide technology Leapified. No more “invalid date”!
  4. To get the words Leap Year Day capitalized in dictionaries
  5. To get the words “Leap Day” in ink on every February 29 on calendars
  6. To have Leap Year Day celebrated by everyone as everyone’s extra day!

Hospitals changing birth dates sounds just plain illegal, and the word “Leapified” is quite silly, but there is no denying having a personally important day ignored by many could get irksome if you’re the 1 in 1,461 born on February 29.

A Centuries-Old Proposal Tradition

Somewhere buried in Scottish and Irish tradition dating back to the 13th century, according to some, it was decided that on February 29, women could pop the question to their significant other. The tradition supposedly originated from a deal Saint Bridget struck with Saint Patrick. In many European cultures, it was accepted that if the proposal was refused, the man was expected to buy the woman a gown, fur coat or pair of gloves. The legend spread around the world, and many leap year balls and dances popped up as a result. Some were held so women could ask men to dance. Some were specifically for the woman to ask for the man’s hand in marriage.

Centuries later, some women still use this bit of folklore as an impetus proposal — on a February 29 or on any day in a leap year. This is especially true in Ireland, where leap day is also called Bachelor’s Day. In the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s, postcards circulated depicting women asking — even begging — the man to marry her. Monmouth University published a database of these postcards, and it’s worth the browse.

One example of the many leap year postcards that circulated around 1907. Image: WikiCommons

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“Please enter a valid birthday.”

Imagine trying to sign up for a subscription online and the computer says your birthday is invalid. Though most of these bugs are fixed by now, there was once a time when software posed major annoyances to February 29 babies. At one point, YouTube would even shut down your account, assuming you were a bot if you entered February 29. One much more devastating story stars Toys “R” Us — the now-defunct toy store chain that is allegedly making a comeback. In the early 2000s, kids could sign up to receive personalized birthday cards from Geoffrey the Giraffe, the store’s mascot. It sounds like a precious marketing gesture, right? Not when leap day babies were left out of the fun due to a coding issue. “How do you explain to a 5-year-old that they won’t receive a birthday card from Geoffrey this year because the Toys “R” Us computer has no way to recognize their birthday?” asked Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies co-founder Raenell Dawn in a 2008 statement. They fixed it quickly, don’t worry.

Leap Year Celebrations and Community

Speaking of Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, yes, this group does exist, and it’s amazing and part of the aforementioned website leapyearday.com. They have more than 10,000 official members and created hilarious merchandise playing on their leap age versus real age. Lots of frog images abound.

This is an example of a funny personalized leap day shirt by Juliet Kennedy, stylist for J Elizabeth Boutique. Image: Facebook

The twin bordering cities of Anthony, TX, and Anthony, NM, are the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the World, where they produce a spectacular four-day leap year festival topped off with a birthday party for all leap year babies (bring your ID!). It began in 1988 when local leapers Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis proposed the greater Anthony area throw a Worldwide Leap Year Festival on their shared birthday. The festival continues to attract leap day babies from across the globe and interested guests alike with parades, tours, Southwestern dancing and birthday treats each leap year in February. My friend Sara is aware of — but isn’t part of — the Leap Day Society or the festival. I secretly wish I could join both.

Cheers to an extra day to celebrate on February 29!

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JFK&aposs Pledge Leads to Start of Apollo Program

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in an appeal President Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." 

At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy&aposs bold proposal. In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. 

Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

President Richard Nixon spoke with Armstrong and Aldrin via a telephone radio transmission shortly after they planted the American flag on the lunar surface. Nixon considered it the "most historic phone call ever made from the White House."

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. 

In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the far side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. That May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.


History, legends of Leap Day come every four years — almost

Amy Adams (right) goes to Ireland in the hopes of tapping into a Leap Day tradition to marry her boyfriend only to have a local cab driver (Matthew Goode) complicate matters in the 2010 movie “Leap Day.” (Photo: Journal Sentinel files)

The “Lil’ Abner” comic strip by Al Capp - (pictured Hekzebian Hawkins and his daughter Sadie) - set Sadie Hawkins Day in November, although the premise — a day in which women can propose to men — had its roots in Leap Day lore. (Photo: Journal Sentinel files)

If there was one thing you could have been sure of going into 2016, it was that the year would be one day longer than its predecessor.

Feb. 29 makes its Leap Year appearance on Gregorian calendars again this year, an event that occurs every four years — almost.

Leap Years, when a day is added to the calendar at the end of February, occur in most years that are divisible by four. But if a year is divisible by 100 but not by 400, it doesn't get a Leap Day. So 1700, 1800 and 1900 did not have Leap Days, but 2000 did.

There's a fair amount of history, legend and pop culture tied to Leap Day. Here is some more Leap Year lore.

The first leap

In 46 B.C., Roman dictator Julius Caesar took the first leap, standardizing the Roman calendar to 365 days with an additional day every four years. The extra day was to account for the extra quarter of a day beyond 365 that it takes the Earth to complete a revolution around the sun.

But even that wasn't enough to keep the calendar in sync with the solar year, which is about 11 minutes shorter than 365.25 days.

So in the 16th century, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the wacky divisible-by-400 exception to the Leap Year rule to account for the difference.

Gregory also gave the day its leaping name. In normal years, dates advance one day in the week in each subsequent year — i.e. July 4 falls on a Friday one year and on a Saturday the next. A leap year causes the calendar to "leap over" one day of the week. So while July 4 was on a Saturday in 2015, it leaps over Sunday and falls on a Monday in 2016.

Leaplings

People born on Feb. 29 are sometimes called "leaplings," or "leapers."

The odds of being a leapling are one in 1,461 — not as good as the Brewers' chance of winning the World Series this year (1 in 60, according to the latest Vegas odds), but better than the odds of hitting a hole in one on a par 3 at Whistling Straits (one in 2,500 for a pro one in 12,500 for the rest of us).

Famous leaplings include composer Gioachino Rossini (1792), jazz musician and big band leader Jimmy Dorsey (1904), singer/TV show host Dinah Shore (1916), actor Dennis Farina (1944), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (1960) and rapper-actor Ja Rule (1976).

Fictional famous leaplings include Jerry Gergich (Jim O'Heir) in "Parks and Recreation," Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) in "Modern Family," Sue Heck (Eden Sher) in "The Middle," and Superman.

The last is a leap birthday that's up for debate, considering the multitude of Superman incarnations over the past nearly 80 years. But a few facts support the date. In 1976, DC Comics released a calendar that listed Kal-El's (Superman's) birthday as Feb. 29. The calendar also noted "Captain Marvel chose Feb. 29 for his birthday, too!"

Superman's Leap Day birthday also appeared in a Time magazine article about the superhero's 50th birthday on March 14, 1988.

Leaping in pop culture

Aside from fictional leaplings, Hollywood has dabbled in Leap Year lore one more than one occasion.

NBC's "30 Rock" went all-in with the episode "Leap Day," which aired during the show's sixth season on Feb. 23, 2012.

On the show, the cast and writers at the fictional "TGS" television show celebrate Leap Day as an actual holiday. Traditions include "Leap Day William," a grandfatherly mascot who gives out candy, and people getting pinched for not wearing blue and yellow.

The movie "Leap Year" (2010) tapped into an actual Leap Day tradition: women proposing to men. The rom-com follows Anna Brady's (Amy Adams) attempt to travel to Ireland and propose to her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) on Leap Day — when, tradition says, men cannot refuse a proposal — only to have an Irish cabdriver (Matthew Goode) complicate matters.

Leap legends and lore

The marriage-proposal tradition has roots in Ireland. According to one legend, in the 5th century, Irish nun St. Brigid of Kildare asked St. Patrick to grant women permission to propose marriage. He acquiesced, but only for one day every four years: Leap Day. Another origin story credits the Scottish Queen Margaret with enacting a law to that effect in 1288.

Both tales have their doubters, partially because the facts don't add up — St. Brigid was only 9 or 10 when St. Patrick died in 1461, and Queen Margaret was just 5 in 1288, and scholars have found no record of such a law. But the tradition has stuck nevertheless.

That tradition has become interwoven with an American one: Sadie Hawkins Day. The day when the girls do the asking out is based on a "Li'l Abner" comic from Nov. 15, 1937.

In the comic, Sadie Hawkins' father sets up a race for eligible bachelors, with the Sadie (unwed, age 35) catching and marrying the "winner" (loser?).

The race became a tradition for the unwed in the comic's fictional town of Dogpatch, and the tradition bled into the real world in the form of races and dances. Because of the similar woman-asks-man proposal tradition on Leap Day, Sadie Hawkins Day has sometimes been associated with Feb. 29, although its traditional date is in November.


Which year was the first leap year? - History

The Feel-Good Guide to Sports, Travel, Shopping & Entertainment

Fun Facts About Leap Year

When is the next leap year? 2020.

A leap year is any year with 366 days instead of the usual 365 days. Therefore, leap day in 2020 will fall on Saturday, February 29th.

It was the ancient Egyptians who first figured out that the solar year and the calendar year didn't always match up.

That's because it actually takes the Earth a little longer than a year to travel around the Sun — 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact.

Therefore, as hours accumulated over the centures, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, and over time the practice became more or less official.

The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four - 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.

Thankfully, all this intricate plotting will continue to keep us in tune with the seasons over the next several thousand years.

Leap Day Delivery

Free donuts to hospital staff
who deliver 2020 leap day babies.

In 2020, leap year lines happens to perfectly line up the major holidays so that Valentines Day lands on date night Friday and Cinco de Mayo lands on (Taco) Tuesday.

Christmas 2020 and New Year's Day 2021 are also on a Friday, meaning a leisurely 3-day weekend to kick off both holidays!

Meanwhile, watch for February 29th to suddenly appear on the radar of marketers who are known to jump on the bandwagon by offering Leap Day sales and specials.

For example, Krispy Kreme is introducing delivery service on leap day 2020. To mark the occasion, the chain is delivering free donuts to dozens of hospitals to celebrate the medical staff and all the babies born February 29. At Denny's, there's an offer for a free Grand Slam at all locations nationwide to anyone born on February 29 &mdash all you have to do is show your ID to redeem it that day.

If you've got the early spring travel bug, you can book a room at Great Wolf Lodge on February 29 for $29 per person with code LEAPYEAR. The offer is good for Family Suites bookings between April 13 and May 21, 2020 with a minimum of two guests per room.

Shop at Bare Necessities on Leap Day 2020 and get 29% off thousands of styles plus free 2-day shipping on orders over $70. Reebok is also offering $29.99 Leap Year specials with code LEAP when you visit the site on February 29.

Like lobster? Legal Sea Foods is offering two one-pound steamed lobsters and a choice of two sides for $29 (except airport locations) on February 29.


Leap Day babies: Antonio
Sabato Jr. and rapper Ja Rule.

Anyone born on a leap day is known as a "leapling".

According to astrologers, you were born under the sign of Pisces on February 29. Owing to the unique day on which you arrived into the world, like other leap day babies you are more apt to go your own way and exhibit an independent streak and optimistic spirit.

While they have to wait every four years to "officially" observe their birthdays, leap year babies typically choose either February 28 or March 1 to celebrate in years that aren't leap years.


Some famous people born on February 29

Born 1976 - Ja Rule, rapper
Born 1972 - Anthonio Sabato Jr., model & actor
Born 1916 - Dinah Shore, singer
Born 1904 - Jimmy Dorsey, bandleader.
Born 1792 - Gioacchino Rossini, Italian opera composer


Leap Day traditions - no man is safe!

While leap day helped official timekeepers, it also resulted in social customs turned upside down when February 29 became a "no man's land" without legal jurisdiction.

As the story goes, the tradition of women romantically pursuing men in leap years began in 5th century Ireland, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about the fair sex having to wait for men to propose. Patrick finally relented and set February 29 aside as the day set aside allowing women the right to ask for a man's hand in marriage.

The tradition continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that on February 29 a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she fancied. Menfolk who refused were faced with a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, or a pair of gloves that were given to the rejected lady fair.

A similar modern American tradition, Sadie Hawkins Day, honors "the homeliest gal in the hills" created by Al Capp in the cartoon strip Li'l Abner. In the famous story line, Sadie and every other woman in town were allowed on that day to pursue and catch the most eligible bachelors in Dogpatch. Although the comic strip placed Sadie Hawkins Day in November, today it has become almost synonymous with February 29.


A leap year poem to remember it by

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Save February, she alone
Hath eight days and a score
Til leap year gives her one day more.


A little bad luck

However, not everywhere believes that a Leap Year is a lucky thing. In Greece, Leap years are wholly unlucky for love, and specifically when it comes to marriage. It is such an entrenched tradition that many engaged couples will wait until the end of a leap year to get married.

Similarly, in Italy, superstitions suggest that buying a car or house during a Leap year is a bad idea and that somebody should instead wait. Around the world, there is also an idea that giving birth during a leap year is bad luck, and will give you a child who is hard to parent.

numismarty / Getty Images