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20 Fun Facts about Leap Years

1. Leap days are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This called a tropical year. Without an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days.

2.  All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.  Under his predecessor Julius Caesar, February had 30 days and the month named after him - July - had 31. August had only 29 days.  When Caesar Augustus became Emperor he added two days to 'his' month to make August the same as July.  So February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days.

3.Queen Margaret of Scotland was apparently five years old when she came up with the notorious February 29 proposal trap in 1288.

4. If a man did refuse the proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or twelve pairs of gloves.

5. Women either have to wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat to pop the question, according to tradition.

6. One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.

7. People born on February 29 are called "leaplings" or "leapers".

8. The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies is a club for people born on Feb. 29. More than 10,000 people worldwide are members.

9. Astrologers believe people born on February 29 have unusual talents, such as the ability to burp the alphabet or paint like Picasso.

10. The only notable person known to have both been born and died on February 29 was Sir James Wilson (1812–1880), Premier of Tasmania.

11. The odds of being born on a leap day are 1 in 1500

12. Karin Henriksen of Norway gave birth to three children on consecutive February 29ths – a daughter in 1960 and two sons in 1964 and 1968.

13. In Hong Kong the legal birthday of a leapling is March 1 in common years, while in New Zealand it is February 28. If you timed it right, flying from one country to the other you could enjoy the world’s longest birthday.

14. Today you are working for free if you're on a fixed annual wage. And prisoners with one-year sentences must serve the extra day if the term crosses leap day.

15. The frog is a symbol associated with February 29. The Australian rocket frog can leap over two metres.

16. Anthony, Texas is the self-proclaimed "Leap Year Capital of the World". It holds a festival which includes a guided trip to Aztec Cave, "fun at the horse farm" and square dancing.

17. Matthew Goode, the British film star who acted in the film Leap Year, said he knew the movie would be remembered as the "worst film of 2011" but wanted to be "close to home and able to visit his girlfriend and newborn daughter."

18. In Russia it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather patterns and a greater risk of death all round. Farming folklore says beans and peas planted in a leap year “grow the wrong way”.

19. In Taiwan, married daughters traditionally return home during the leap month as it is believed the lunar month can bring bad health to parents.The daughters are told to bring pig trotter noodles to wish them good health and good fortune.

20. Leap years in history: During leap years, George Armstrong Custer fought the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), the Titanic sank (1912), Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity (1752) and and gold was discovered in California (1848).

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