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After you have updated your stylesheet, make sure you turn this module off

Leap Year: Why is there an extra day in February this year?

by Tracey A. Maine on February 29, 2020

What does "leap year" mean?

A leap year adds an extra day to the calendar year, usually every four years. That extra gets tacked on to the end of February, giving the month 29 days instead of 28. 

Why do we have leap years?

The amount of time it takes Earth to orbit the sun and our modern-day Gregorian calendar reflect two different periods. Earth's orbit actually takes long than the 365 days in the Gregorian calendar. Adding an extra day every four years to the calendar prevents our seasons from falling out of sync with where we traditionally anticipate them falling in the calendar. 

Who invented the concept of a leap year?

gizah pyramids in Egypt near Cairo at sunset

The Egyptians first devised a leap year. Later, in 46 B.C., the Roman dictator, Julius Caesar and the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria created the Julian Calendar. Their creation added an extra day to balance out any inconsistencies in the calendar.

What historical events took place on a leap day?

What traditions are associated with leap year?

  • In Europe, it's customary for women to propose to men on Leap Day.
  • In Ireland, legend has it that if a woman proposes to a man, she cannot be rejected.
  • In Finland, if a man refuses a woman's marriage proposal, he's expected to buy her enough fabric for a skirt.
  • In Denmark, if a man refuses a woman's proposal on Feb. 29, he must present the woman with 12 gloves to hide her ringless finger.
  • In Greece, many people still believe that leap year is bad luck and engaged couples should avoid getting married until the year passes.

What historical events took place during leap years?

  • In A.D. 64, the ancient city of Rome burned.
  • In 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • In 1752 Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity.
  • In 1848 gold was discovered in California.
  • In 1912 the Titanic sank.

Blonde woman jumping into air. Text that reads "Leap into your future. Click to apply!"