2020 is a leap year. This means that this year is 366 days, exactly one day longer than usual. Everyone who was born on February 29th will have the chance to finally celebrate their birthday on their actual birthday. Everyone else, on the other hand, can simply look forward to one more day in 2020 or use the additional day to do something useful.
Did you know that February 29 is a very special day full of lots of little stories? Find out everything you need to know about this leap year!
Initiated by the Romans
Perhaps you don’t know the origin of your birthday? It is to the Romans that you must express your frustration. Before Julius Caesar came to power, Rome had 355 days on its calendar. So, every two years entire leap months of 22 days had to be inserted to prevent the calendar and seasons from shifting. Caesar adjusted the calendar by aligning it with the Earth’s rotation time around the Sun (365.2422 days). It was therefore decided that the years would last 365 days and that an additional day would be added every four years. But why necessarily in February? Because the Julian year began with March, February was the last month of the year.
To catch up with the solar year
February 29 in the calendar is used to “catch up” with the solar year. The earth needs a year to circle the sun. Unfortunately, the calculation doesn’t quite work out, because we’re too slow. 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. This is not noticeable in one year, but over the years our winter would fall into July. To compensate, there is an extra day every four years. February 29, therefore, allows our calendars to stay in step with the astronomical cycle.
But that’s not quite enough. We are still eleven minutes and fourteen seconds apart. But easy: Years that are divisible by 100 are not leap years. If you can divide them by 400, you can do it again. Do you understand? Nope? We don’t either, but it doesn’t matter. Let’s have a nice extra day!
People born on the 29th do not know when they are of age
We all wait impatiently to be of age, but babies born on February 29, often called “leapers,” never really know how to celebrate their majority on the same day. They are of legal age in a non-leap year, 18 not being a multiple of 4. Is their legal majority then on February 28 or March 1? It all depends on the country, in the United Kingdom, the person becomes of legal age on March 1, while in New Zealand for example, it is February 28.
Leap year luck
Eating frogs legs on February 29th is considered lucky. Traditions say it brings great wealth and good luck in the coming year.
Small problems with the administration
Several people claim that by being born on February 29, they face some challenges in the hospital or library, when their date of birth simply does not exist in the database and are therefore assigned a false date of birth.
Several people say that they often miss their birthday in stores. They only very rarely benefit from small automated advantages, and in particular, the coupons granted by certain stores for birthdays, which they only receive every four years.
A cursed day in Scotland
For Scottish people, February 29 is not a very happy day. Indeed for them it’s like Friday the 13th, a day of bad luck.
Children of the same family born on February 29
In Norway luck or calculated? A mother gave birth to her three children on three consecutive February 29, a real feat. Just like an Irish family whose members were born on “leap days” for three generations.
Women ask men for marriage
An old Irish tradition that dates back to the 5th century is that women embark on a unique and romantic experience on February 29. At that time, St. Brigid of Kildare bitterly complained about the fact that women always had to wait too long for the marriage proposal. According to the Irish Central website, the legend says that Saint Patrick granted her wish and declared February 29, a day when women could ask for the hand of a man.
World Rare Disease Day
February 29th is celebrated as World Rare Disease Day as the last day of the month of February. The purpose of its commemoration is to create awareness and help all people who suffer from such conditions. Read more about this on our website.