Topical Talkers

Surprising Facts About February 29.

February gains an extra day. We all know that a calendar year is typically 365 days long and is loosely defined by the number of days it takes the Earth to orbit the sun. But, what’s lesser known is that 365 is actually a rounded number. In reality, it takes 365.242190 days for Earth to orbit the sun – or, 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 56 seconds!

Here are some surprising facts about the bonus day.
Surprising Facts About February 29
January, April, and July all start on the same day
Every leap year, these months all start on the same day. In 2024 they’ll all start on a Monday. And, in 2020, they all began on a Wednesday.
People born on 29th February are called ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’
People born on 29th February will prepare to celebrate their actual birthday in 2024 for the first time since 2020. During non leap years, so-called ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’ must choose to celebrate their birthday on either 28th February or 1st March.
Official leap year cocktail
Unsurprisingly…it’s called the Leap Year Cocktail! Crafted on 29th February, 1928, the Leap Year cocktail is a well-rounded martini alternative. Gin is paired with sweet vermouth and the brandy-based orange sweetness of Grand Marnier. The result is so deliciously refreshing that you might argue it deserves to be enjoyed more than once every four years!
Tradition says it’s okay for women to propose to men on 29th February
There’s a tradition that women propose to men on 29th February, rather than the other way around. There are a few contending theories as to where this idea came from. The first goes that an Irish nun, Brigid of Kildare, pleaded with Irish patron saint St Patrick for women to have a chance to propose to shy suitors, to which he obliged on February 29th.
Another contender is that Queen Margaret of Scotland passed a law in 1288 that women could propose on 29th February. And, if a man refused, he had to pay a fine of new gloves, a gown, or a kiss. However, a more likely reason stems back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar. The idea of adding an extra day every four years seemed so ridiculous to many that a British play joked it would be a day when women should trade their dresses for ‘breeches’ and act like men.
Technically, It’s Not Every Four Years
Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year around 46 B.C., but his Julian calendar had only one rule: Any year evenly divisible by four would be a leap year. That created too many leap years, but the math wasn’t tweaked until Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar more than 1,500 years later.
Caesar’s concept wasn’t bad, but his math was a little off; the extra day every four years was too much of a correction. As a result, there’s a leap year every year that is divisible by four, but to qualify, century years (those that end in 00) must also be divisible by 400. So, the year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.
There’s Even a Leap Year Club
The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies is a club for people born on Feb. 29. More than 10,000 people worldwide are members.