Today, February 29th, is Leap Day, and 2016 is a Leap Year. This will not happen again until 2020!
A Leap Year has 366 days, as opposed to a common year, which has 365 days, and every fourth year is a leap year, as a rule of thumb. In addition, a year that is divisible by 100, but not by 400, is not.
The Leap Year’s extra day is necessary because of the “messiness” of our Solar System. One Earth year (a complete orbit around the Sun) does not take an exact number of whole days. In fact, it takes 365.2422 days, give or take.
Women are traditionally allowed and even encouraged to propose to men on a Leap Year. This tradition dates all the way back to 5th Century Ireland.
There are about 4 million people in the world who have been born on February 29th, and the chances of having a leap year birthday are 1 in 1,461. Four years is 1,460 days and adding one for the leap year you have 1,461.
Those born on Leap Year are considered “leaplings,” who celebrate their birthdays on either February 28 or March 1 on a non-Leap Year. Famous leaplings include rapper Ja Rule and actor Anthony Sabato Jr.
Here is Mother Goose’s Leap Year Poem:
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.