Leap Day: A Rare Occurrence Explained and Celebrated

February 29th, commonly known as Leap Day, carries a distinctive flair, occurring only once every four years. Individuals born on this unique day are endearingly referred to as “leaplings” or “leapers.”

Do you know why Leap Day occurs in February? During the Middle Ages, the New Year began in March, to coincide with the first day of Spring. This meant that February was the last month of the year and thus the appropriate place to add days when calendar adjustments took place, as they occasionally did because calculations were based on the phases of the moon, a less precise method.

Roman statesman Julius Caesar came along and introduced a fixed 365-day solar calendar called the Julian calendar, in the first century BC. His calendar included a Leap Day every four years.

In 1582, his calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, named for Pope Gregory XIII, which still includes Leap Days but with an exception. Because the every-four-year plan is not quite accurate over time, the Gregorian calendar’s Leap Years occur every year that is divisible by four, except for end-of-century years, which must be divisible by 400. For instance, 2000 was a Leap Year, but 1900 was not.

Did you know that the chances of having a Leap Day birthday are one in 1,461? According to History.com, about 4.1 million people around the world have been born on this special day. For those fortunate enough to celebrate their birthday on February 29th, retailers often extend special discounts when you show your ID, adding an extra layer of celebration to this rare occasion.