Want to know more about leap years? Here are a few things that, uh, leap to mind.
1. Julius Caesar helped create leap years. A leap year occurs every four years and contains an extra day — Feb. 29 — to keep the calendar and the seasons in sync. The concept was pioneered thousands of years ago by Caesar, who wanted to ensure Roman farmers were able to rely on the calendar for consistent seasonal plantings.
2. Feb. 29 is a day for marriage proposals. Because of its quirky nature, this date — also known as Leap Year Day — has traditions all its own. For example, in Ireland, the day is referred to as Bachelor’s Day, a holiday when women propose to men. Scotland began the tradition in 1288 by passing a law permitting women to propose and if refused, the man had to pay a fine.
3. The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are slim. Statistically, 1 of every 1,461 people is a “leaper.” Many countries have laws defining when a person born on Feb. 29 actually comes of age. In New Zealand, for example, a leaper’s official birthday falls on Feb. 28, but leap year babies in the United Kingdom aren’t recognized as another year older until March 1.
4. Leap Year Day is one for the records. At least two mothers have given birth to three Leap Day babies: a Norwegian woman who gave birth on Feb. 29 in 1960, 1964 and 1968, and a Utah woman whose babies arrived on that day in 2004, 2008 and 2012. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an Irish man born Feb. 29, 1940, had a son who was born on Leap Day 1964, then the son had a daughter who was born Feb. 29, 1996. Famous leap year babies include Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (1792), actress Dinah Shore (1916), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (1960) and rapper Ja Rule (1976).