It happens every four years; except when it doesn’t.
In order to keep our calendar synced with the time it takes for Earth to circle the Sun (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, or 365.2422 days, but who’s counting?), it is necessary to add an extra day, known as leap day, every four years. It happens in February, so the month ends up having 29 days instead of 28.
There is a simple way to figure out if it’s a leap year. If the last two digits of a year are divisible by 4 (e.g. 2016, 2020, 2024 …), then it’s a leap year. However, century years are the exception: They must be divisible by 400 to be leap years. Therefore, 2000 and 2400 are leap years, but 2100 will not be one. Are you with me so far?
If the math and science of leap year don’t interest you, perhaps these fun facts will.
• Your chances of being born on leap day are about 1 in 1,500.
• Feb. 29, or Leap Day, is also known as Sadie Hawkins Day, and is traditionally known as a day when women propose to their boyfriends or ask a guy out on a date.
• In 1712, Finland and Sweden had to add Feb. 30 as a way of catching up their outdated Julian calendar to the new Gregorian calendar.
• Want to know who else celebrates Feb. 30? Hobbits! Fans of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” know that wee folks observe 12 30-day months in their calendar.
• The good news: If you have a fixed monthly rent, you get one free day.
• The bad news: Salaried workers do not get paid for the extra leap day.
Leap Day Birthdays
For those born on Feb. 29, Leap Year means getting to celebrate their birthday on the actual day. Of course, in regular years, it’s a great reason to extend birthday parties, celebrating the day before, after, or both.
Local residents share their plans for celebrating.
” I’m a leap year baby, and I’ll be 28 (or 7 in leap years) this year. This year I was planning to throw a themed party for when I was actually 7 years old. When it’s not a leap year, I celebrate on the 28th and March 1; one day with family and the other with friends. I’m excited for an actual birthday this year.” — Aubrey
“I am officially turning 10 (or 40) this year. Every non-leap year, I encounter my friends sending me messages; one on the 28th with “Happy” and the other on March 1, with “Birthday,” or sending birthday wishes at the stroke of midnight, March 1st, because that’s where my “real” birthday would fall if I were to have one. I remember back when I was younger and computer systems were still new, leap years were not recognized as valid birthdays. I was given the “technically”… ‘technically you were born after the 28th, so…’ Given all of the technicalities, I usually celebrated all week long. This year is a big one for me, and there are so many options, I’m not sure what to do for my birthday. Friends and family are the important part, AND it’s on a Saturday this year!” — Brandi