So, I’ve saved my post this month for the 29th of February for the sheer novelty of posting on a leap year day! It’s going to be short and sweet, but here are few fun facts and folklore about leap years (also known as an intercalary or bissextile years) to keep you amused during your lunch break!
- February 29th is a date that only ever occurs once every four years (a paradox if you’re born on this day – as found in Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1879 comic opera the Pirates of Penzance!)
- This date is added to the calendar every four years as a corrective measure as the earth doesn’t orbit the sun in precisely 365 days (the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days!)
- Julias Caesar was behind the creation of the leap year in 45 BC
- If you’re born on this day you are known as a ‘leapling’ or ‘leaper’
- In the UK it is a tradition that women may only propose to men on leap years.
- In Denmark it is a tradition that women may propose on the bissextile leap year day (February 24th) and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves
- In Greece marriage on a leap year is considered unlucky
- Pope Paul III last Renaissance pope (1534-1549) was born on a leap year day!