You are currently viewing Leap Year Facts & History

Leap Year Facts & History

February 29th, also known as leap year, is a date that occurs once every four years to keep the Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. While most people may see this extra day as just an odd occurrence on their calendars, there is actually a deep history surrounding the day and how it came to be. In this article, we’ll take a look at some fascinating leap year facts and dive deep into the history behind this “extra” day.

The Purpose of Leap Years

The concept of leap years originated from the ancient Romans, who noticed that their lunar-based calendar was out not in sync with the solar year. To address this issue, Julius Caesar introduced a new solar-based calendar in 45 BC which included an extra day every four years. This was known as the Julian Calendar and it is the predecessor of our current Gregorian calendar.

Leap Year Fun Facts

  • There are approximately 1,461 days in a leap year, which is one day shorter than the solar year.
  • The chance of being born on February 29th is around 1 in 1,461 or 0.068%.
  • People born on leap day are called “leaplings” or “leapers”.

Traditions & Superstitions

Here are some interesting examples of traditions and superstitions surrounding leap year:

  • In Ireland, it is considered to be bad luck to get married during a leap year. However, this also comes with a tradition that women can propose to men on February 29th. (Que the movie Leap Year)
  • In Greece, it is also believed that getting married in a leap year will bring bad luck to the marriage.
  • According to English folklore, February 29th is the one day every four years where women can legally accept a proposal from a man. If they refuse, the man must buy them gloves as compensation.
  • In some countries, February 29th is considered an unlucky day for any major life changes, such as starting a new job or buying a house.
  • In Russia and Ukraine, leap year is seen as a lucky time to get married or have children.
  • In Taiwan, it is believed that any child born on February 29th will have bad luck throughout their life.

All in all, many of the superstitions surrounding leap year tend to be on the side of bad luck.

Leap Day Birthdays

For those born on February 29th, celebrating their birthday only comes once every four years. However, some countries have different legal or cultural ways of handling leap year birthdays:

  • In the United Kingdom, leaplings are legally considered to have aged on February 28th until their next birthday.
  • In Hong Kong, both March 1st and February 29th are considered acceptable legal birth dates for leaplings.
  • In the United States and Canada, leaplings can choose to celebrate their birthday on either February 28th or March 1st.


Leap years may seem like just an extra day on the calendar, but in reality they hold a deep and meaningful history and are full of traditions and superstitions. So next time you see February 29th marked on your calendar, remember the ancient Romans and their efforts to keep our calendars in sync with the Earth’s orbit. And if you happen to know a leapling, make sure to wish them a happy birthday on their rare and special day!