While everybody knows why a Leap Year is necessary (go back to your primary school Science textbooks if you don’t remember or click on this link if you’re feeling particularly lazy and forgetful), there are a host of other interesting facts about the quadrennial phenomenon. Here are a few:
Why February gets to be the lucky month to host the Leap day:
While every child in school knows why a Leap Year exists, why February gets to be the lucky month is omitted in most textbooks. Place the blame the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. It is believed that Augustus was miffed about the fact that the month of August — named after him — contained only 29 days, while July — named after Julius Caesar — had 31 days. In the battle of the egos, poor February lost out and was compensated with by being granted the Leap Day.
For a change, women are expected to propose to the men:
It is, in fact, a ‘right’ granted to women. One of the popular theories suggests the tradition originated in Britain and goes back hundreds of years when the Leap Year was not legally recognised. That is why it is called a Leap Year — as the day was ‘leapt over’ in the calendar. This made it a deviant day with no legal status, making a break in tradition acceptable. In some European countries, a rejected woman was supposed to be gifted 12 pairs of gloves by the man who spurned her.
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The odds of being born a ‘leapling’:
The odds of being born a Leap Day baby are 1:1461. Some mathematicians argue that the figure is slightly incorrect, accommodating the loss of three Leap Years every 400 years. The odds of both mother and child being born on a Leap Day lie somewhere in the range of 2 million to 1. There is, in fact, a global society formed in the honour of leaplings, and all leaplings are invited to join ‘The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies’. The Guinness Book of World Records has listings of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29, and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.
There’s an official Leap Year capital of the world:
In 1998, the town of Anthony in Texas, USA, declared itself to be the ‘Leap Year Capital of the World’. While the initial appeal for the title was said to be due to two members of its Chamber of Commerce being born leaplings, a Chamber member later made an honest admission that, “We just voted arbitrarily to name this as the Leap Year Capital of the World because no one else has.” Anthony hosts a parade and a huge birthday party for all leaplings on every February 29.
There’s even a Leap second!
An extra second was added in June 2015 to bring the Earth’s rotation in line with the atomic time — the earth’s rotation is slowing down at a rate of 2,000th of a second per day. Yes, there actually was a 11.59.60 on the clocks immediately before midnight. This was done to avoid the eventuality when the clocks would display noon time at night. Since most automated processes in the world rely on precise timings, a similar addition in 2012 created a massive crash in services of Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and the Linux Operating System and other programmes written in Java.