This day only comes around once every four years (mostly)—so I bet you're glad you weren't born on February 29th! Think of how few birthdays you would've had!
Leap Day is added to February every Leap Year, making those years 366 days rather than the normal 365 days. We do this so that our calendars keep pace with the solar year, which is about 365.242199 days long. Here is a short, clear explanation of why we need—and how we calculate—Leap Years.
Some of the Leap Day traditions seem very odd to us these days. For example, in Europe during the middle ages, women were “allowed” to propose marriage to men on Leap Day—but not any other time of the year! In some localities, if a man said “no” to such a Leap Day proposal, he had to buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves. In other places, there were other gifts that must be given with the “no," such as a silk dress and a kiss.
|These two old postcards made|
light of the idea that women
could propose on just one day every
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there is a family who has had three consecutive generations born on February 29. Peter Anthony Keogh was born in Ireland on this day in 1940, his son Peter Eric Keogh was born in the U.K. on this day in 1964, and his granddaughter Bethany Keogh was born in the U.K. on this day in 1996. Another weird record is held by a Norwegian family named Henriksen, who had three children born on Leap Day—in the years 1960, 1964, and 1968. W-o-w!