5 Fun Facts about Leap Year

Leap day is approaching once again, falling on Saturday the 29. As it arrives, it evokes curiosity to the history, folk tales and traditions. There are some interesting aspects of this unique  day that spark interesting conversation and fun surprises. Here are a few fun facts about leap year.

1. You may not know that ancient Egyptians actually discovered that the solar year and the calendar year do not match up. Because of this, it takes the Earth longer than a year to travel around the Sun, exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. The hours that accumulate over the centuries occasionally add an extra day to the calendar. It was the Romans that first designated February 29 as leap day.

2. If you were born on leap day then you are what is known as a “leapling.” According to astrologers, if you were born on leap day, then you were born under the sign of Pisces. Leap day babies are known to be more independent and want to go their own way as well as having a more optimistic spirit. Those are also Pisces traits as well. Some famous people born on leap day are Ja Rule, Dinah Shore and Tony Robbins.

3. A well known folk tale about leap day explains that women can propose to men on this day. This began in the 5th century  Ireland, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about the fair sex having to wait for men to propose. The first documentation of a woman proposing to a man on this day dates back to 1288, when Scotland supposedly passed a law allowing it. If a man declines a proposal in a leap year, they must pay a fine. That fine ranges between a kiss to paying for a silk dress or gloves so the woman doesn’t have to show her ringless hand.

4. In Taiwan and Russia, there are some superstitions and traditions carried out in a leap year. In Russia, it is believed that leap year brings more freak weather patterns and a greater risk of death. Also it says that beans and peas planted in a leap year will not grow the proper way. In Taiwan, married daughters traditionally return home during the month of February because it is known to bring bad health to parents otherwise. The daughters are supposed to bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and fortune.

5. Some interesting historical events have happened during leap years. George Armstrong Custer, a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War, fought the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. In 1912, the Titanic sank and in the leap year of 1752, Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. In 1848, gold was discovered in California.