Why We Have Leap Year and the Folklore Behind the Day
A look at why we add an extra day every four years
What is Leap Year?
If you ask most people how many days there are in a year, they will probably answer 365. That well known fact is actually fiction, since the earth turns 365 and a just less than a quarter times over a period of one calendar year. To be precise, there are 365.242374 days in a year.
To catch up the calendar, an extra day is added once every four years.
The adjustment of one day actually slightly overcompensates (.24374 x 4 = .97495). Although it's a small difference, it translates into about three extra days over a period of 400 years.
That requires yet another adjustment which is why one out of every four century years (years that are divisible by 400) is a century leap year and does qualify for a leap year. The year 1900 for example, did not get to celebrate the extra day.
Leap Day, February 29, is the extra day that is added to the calendar.
Leap Year Folklore
- Persons born on leap day, February 29, are called "leaplings" or "leapers." A leaping who lives to 80, will only get to celebrate 20 true bithdays.
- A tradition dating back at least four centuries, is that women have the privilege of proposing marriage to their sweethearts on Leap Year. In literature, any man who refused such a proposal owed his suitor a silk gown and a kiss, provided is suitor is wearing a red petticoat.
Looking to celebrate Leap Year?