Quantum leap

It’s Leap Day 2024 and here’s a collection of relevant trivia

Posted 2/28/24

NATIONWIDE — You can tell it’s February in a leap year because the stories about Leap Day are popping up like… like… things that pop up every four years. U.S. elections? …

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Quantum leap

It’s Leap Day 2024 and here’s a collection of relevant trivia


NATIONWIDE — You can tell it’s February in a leap year because the stories about Leap Day are popping up like… like… things that pop up every four years. U.S. elections? Over-eager cicadas?

Why a Leap Day? 

A leap day is inserted into the Gregorian calendar every four years to compensate for the difference between the calendar and the solar year. The latter is the time it takes the Earth to go around the sun, but the usual number of days given, 365, is rounded, the Smithsonian points out. In truth, “the Earth takes 365.242190 days to orbit the Sun, or 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds.”

Adding a leap day keeps our seasons occurring at the same points in the calendar. 

(Mostly. Learn more at www.airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/science-leap-year.)

Otherwise, the site adds, in 700 years we’d be having summer in December. 

Which Leap Day traditions did I find listed just about everywhere?

The marriage-proposal one

The red-petticoat one

The glove one

That French newspaper that only comes out once in four years

Leap Day birthdays

Somewhere between four and five million people worldwide could have birthdays on Leap Day. On non-leap years, they celebrate the day before or the day after. 

Apparently a February 29 birthday can give computers anxiety, creating a situation of leap-day denial. People who are just trying to input their birthdays are told the day is not valid. 

Dig deeper: How does this affect driver’s license applications and other age-sensitive things to do? Can you go out for a beer on your birthday when you turn 21? Do you have to wait a day? Or can you go early?

Somebody Google for me, please.  

Leap Day and computers, part two

Leap Day gives computers more anxiety: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_year_problem.

Leap Day food

No special meals found.

Leap Day in religion

St. Oswald might be the religious image of Leap Day you see everywhere; his day is February 29 in a leap year and February 28 otherwise. 

The Eastern Orthodox Church honors St. John Cassian on February 29, “reputedly as punishment for being the last to arrive when the saints asked Christ for work,” says the Oxford Companion to the Year. The good compilers of the book may have been kidding, but a Byzantine forum cites writings by Cassian on procrastination, calling it “a harsh and terrible malady.” Was that the voice of experience?

Leap Day is fun: movies, activities and more

Leap Day song

“Leap Year” by Maria Taylor.

Leap Day musical

“Leap Day,” a children’s musical, Beat by Beat Press.

Leap Day Year movies

“Leap Year” (2010), starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Panned by some for its portrayal of Irish people.

Leap Day birding

Hey, birders: this one’s worth trying here, maybe in four years. The observatory in Cape May, NJ holds a birding event on February 29.

“We will be attempting to track down 100 species before the day ends. This full day special field trip has something to offer birders of all skill and experience levels,” states the event announcement. Check the calendar at capemay.com.

Leap Day fun

Honesdale’s own Highlights for Children has created a list of Leap Day activities for kids. 

Visit www.parents.highlights.com/29-fun-ways -to-spend-leap-years-extra-hours.

Leap Day games

As in, games released on Leap Day. Did you know that the SNES (that’s the Super Nintendo Entertainment System) version of “Doom” was released on Leap Day 1996? It was! “Resident Evil 3” came out as a PSone Classic on Leap Day 2012.

Because you want to know: “Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth” for the PS5 is coming out on Leap Day 2024.

Ultimately, think of it as a bonus day

It’s like daylight savings. Or is it the removal of daylight savings? The one where you get an extra hour, anyway. But this is an entire day!

Unless you’re working with the old Chinese calendar—or the Hebrew calendar—when you’re sometimes granted an extra month. What will you do with this time?

If that doesn’t brighten your extra day, take heart: scavenger-hunt company Watson Adventures reminds us that someday we won’t need Leap Day. The moon is slipping away from Earth slowly, making each day ever-so-slightly longer. At some point, the year will be exactly 365 days long. Watson Adventures estimates that to happen in about four million years.

Sources: It felt like the entire internet had something to say about Leap Day. Some sources are cited in the story; others included www.gamerant.com, www.capemay.com/calendar/events/leap-into-birding/, a BuzzFeed list by Emma Cooke in 2020, and especially www.watsonadventures.com/blog/fun-stuff/7-weird-facts-leap-day/. (And the days-getting-longer issue was confirmed at www.space.com, which added that 1.4 billion years ago, the Earth’s day lasted about 18 hours. That is kind of cool.)

leap year, leap day, holiday, traditions


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