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Leap Day 2024: History, significance and some interesting facts of Feb 29

Leap Day 2024: An extra day added to the Gregorian calendar every four years is called Leap Day. Here's all you need to know about the history of this day, significance and more

Leap Day 2024

Sudeep Singh Rawat New Delhi

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An extra day added to the Gregorian calendar about every four years is called Leap Day. It was first started in 46 BCE as Earth takes more than 365 days to revolve around the Sun and the Julian calendar did not provide any extra day for this. 

This addition leads to shifting each session by a quarter of a day. This was the problem with Julian's calendar as it caused seasons to begin 44 minutes earlier every year. 

This extra day is added to February helping the modern Gregorian calendar align with Earth's revolutions around the Sun.

This lead day balances our calendars with Earth's orbit, preventing seasons from drifting out of place and ensuring equinoxes and all the annual events follow their schedule. Without the existence of leap day, summers arrive in November and the months will not be able to predict seasons anymore.

Leap Day 2024: History

The practice of adding an extra day was started by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. The concept was introduced by Caesar to compensate for the fact that the Sun takes 365.25 days adding an extra day every four years. The calendar gradually drifts out of sync with the seasons. However, this calendar does have some flaws.

READ: Ambience Group Announces "Once in a Leap Year Opportunity" for Homebuyers

This extra day led to some inaccuracies in the calendar and to resolve this problem, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582. The leap year rule was refined by Gregory, excluding years divisible by 100, unless they are also divisible by 400. Hence, the Gregorian Calendar ensured that it remained more closely aligned with the Earth's actual orbit around the Sun.

Leap Year 2024: Significance

Leap years play pivotal roles in keeping the Earth's natural cycles with the seasons beginning earlier than usual in the year. Leap year is also associated with customs of romance and marriage in different parts of the world. In 5th century Ireland, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women should not be allowed to propose to men for marriage. Hence, it is also known as ‘Bachelor’s Day’ in different leap years.

Interesting Facts about Leap Year

Rare Birthdays

People born on February 29 are called leaplings as they celebrate their birthday once every four years. Making them part of an exclusive group as the probability of being born on Leap Day is about 1 in 1,461.

Traditions and Superstitions

Leap Day inspired various superstitions around the world. For example, it is believed that women can propose marriage to men on this day reversing traditional roles of' Ladies Privilege'. This day is also associated with luck and fortune, while in many other places, it is considered an unlucky day for certain activities. 

Leap Year Proposals

The tradition of women proposing marriage to men on Leap Day has its roots in Irish folklore. As per legend, St. Bridget, who is an Irish nun, complained to St. Patrick who waited for women to receive marriage proposals. St. Patrick designated February 29 to encourage women to propose to men.

Legal Status

In some legal systems, people whose birthday falls on February 29, is considered to be March 1 in non-leap years. This legal distinction ensures individuals born on Leap Day so that they can have a consistent birthday for administrative purposes.

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First Published: Feb 29 2024 | 11:22 AM IST

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