Interesting Facts About Leap Day

Posted February 29, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment

Today is Leap Day! Why do we have leap days? Because it actually takes about 365¼ days for the Earth to orbit the sun. To account for this, an extra day is added every four years to the Gregorian calendar. This occurs every year divisible by four, with the exception of century years, unless it is divisible by 400.

Interesting Facts About Leap Day

Here are some interesting facts about leap day:

1. You can thank Julius Caesar for leap year. The Roman calendar once contained 355 days per year, with an extra month of 22 days every two years. However, when Caesar came to power, he ordered astronomer Sosigenes to devise a much simpler calendar. He came up with the 365-day year, where every four years and extra day is added. The calendar was refined later by Pope Gregory XIII, who adjusted for the discrepancy that would occur every four hundred years. The result is the Gregorian calendar used today.

2. Why February? Under Julius Caesar’s rule, February had 30 days. When Caesar Augustus became emperor, August, which was named after him, only had 29 days, but the month named after his predecessor Julius, July, had 31. Augustus had the month of August adjusted to have 31 days, leaving February short a couple of days.

3. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for most generations born on Leap Day is three. The record is held by the Keogh family, with family members Peter Anthony (b.1940), his son Peter Eric (b.1964) and his granddaughter Bethany Wealth (b.1999) all born on Leap Day.

4. The world record for most siblings born on Leap Day is held by the three children of Karin and Henry Henriksen. Heidi (b.1960), Olav (b.1964) and Leif-Martin (b.1968) all celebrate their birthdays on February 29.

5. An old tradition says that women are allowed to propose marriage to men on Leap Day. The true origins of the tradition is not known, but some Irish folk stories say that the tradition had come from a deal struck between a nun, Brigid of Kildare, and Saint Patrick. As the story goes, Brigid of Kildare complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose marriage. St. Patrick then agreed to give women a chance to propose every four years.

6. The twin cities Anthony, Texas and Anthony, New Mexico declared themselves to be the joint “Leap Year Capitals of the World.”

7. Babies born on Leap Day are often referred to as “leapers” or “leaplings.” On non-leap years, most end up celebrating their birthdays on either February 28 or March 1.

8. The odds of being born on a leap day are about 1 in 1,461. Some famous Leap Day babies include, singer Dinah Shore, actor Dennis Farina, and Pope Paul III.

9. On February 29, 1940, actress Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award. She took home the prize for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind.

10. If we didn’t have leap days, today’s date would be July 15, 2017.

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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