Leap Year 2020: What Is a Leap Year, Who Is a Leapling and More Fun Facts About February 29
Happy Leap Day! No, don't start jumping just yet, this holiday has nothing to do with frogs or ballet. It has to do with catching up to the Gregorian calendar and the rotation of the sun.
What Is a Leap Year?
The Gregorian calendar, a.k.a. the one that we all use, is usually made up of 365 days, but every four years we have a year with 366 days. That year is called, you guessed it, a Leap Year. It's not just some arbitrary add to make us work one extra day of the year — the reasons for having it are actually scientific.
It takes approximately 365 days for the earth to complete its orbit around the sun. We say "approximately" because it really takes 365.2422 days for a full revolution. It's pretty hard to have .2422 of a day (although we'd argue anything's possible with a long enough nap …) so every four years, we have a Leap Year to catch up.
You may think that adding one measly day per year doesn't add up, but it does!
Fun Fact: Julius Caesar was actually the one to come up with the initial solution, adding a day to February, while Pope Gregory XIII (who's responsible for the Gregorian Calendar) made a few revisions that have become our current calendar.
How Often Is a Leap Year?
A Leap Year occurs every four years, but because of math, there are a few times in history where every fourth year has not and will not be a Leap Year.
A century year cannot be a Leap Year unless it is divisible by 400. That means that 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not Leap Years, but 2000 was and 2400 will be a Leap Year. Ah, math!
What Happens If You Were Born on a Leap Year?
If you are born on Feb. 29, you're not just birthday twins with Ja Rule, you're also technically aging slower than other people. Okay, okay, so you're still aging, but you only celebrate your birthday every four years, which means that if you're turning 40 years old, you'd only technically be 10. The good news is, you can still celebrate at Chuck E. Cheese without being judged!
The odds of being born on Leap Day are pretty slim: on any given day, there's a 1 in 365 chance you were born, but on Leap Day, the odds are 1 in 1,461.
We'd imagine it's quite a dilemma for leaplings — which is what you call someone with a Leap Day birthday — to decide on which day to celebrate: Feb. 28 or March 1. It's all about personal preference.
Here Are Some Fun Leap Year Activities:
There is only one truly acceptable way to celebrate the Leap Year, and that is by watching the movie Leap Year, which is based on the real-life tradition in Ireland that a woman can propose to a man on a Leap Day.
If you're not into rom-coms, give the Leap Day episodes of Modern Family, Parks and Rec, The Middle and 30 Rock a go.
You could also get into the Leap Day spirit by celebrating like the characters do on 30 Rock, by doing the things they would never normally do while wearing blue and yellow.
Happy Leap Day! And remember: