So, you’re most likely working an extra day this year and not getting paid for it!  It’s a leap year.  The strange worldwide calendrical event, where old folks finally celebrate their sweet sixteen, women propose to men and depending where you live, it can bring good or bad luck.  February will have 29 days this Month, but why? Why do we do it?  Why all this confusion of an extra day?  

 It’s all about Astrology:  

 One solar year is 365 and a quarter day long (around 365.242 days). It takes roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds for the Earth to Orbit the sun. It’s that extra five-or-so hours that are to blame for Leap days. Every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar to compensate for those missing quarters of a day. Since a solar year is 0.242 days longer than the calendar year, and not exactly 0.25, the Julian calendar drifted off by one day every 128 years. The Gregorian calendar fixed this problem by establishing a model which considered every fourth year a leap year. Also, according to Gregorian calculations any year which is divisible by 100 and not by 400 will not be considered a leap year (eg. the year 1900). Experts, however, say there are still tiny discrepancies with this method and our Gregorian system will have to be revisited...in about 10,000 years.  Now that we got the Science stuff out of the way, there are actually a lot of really fascinating facts surrounding leap days/years.  

First let’s look at some folks who took complete advantage of this extra day:

The Month of February originally had 30 days, during the reign of Julius Caesar, but when Caesar Augustus came to power, he wanted August (the month named after him) which had 29 days then, to have 31 days, just like the month of July (named after his predecessor Julius). So, he stole a couple days from February to make the number of days in August similar to that of July. Since then, February has had 28 days with Feb. 29 as the leap day. 

During his final trip to the West Indies, explorer Christopher Columbus used a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504 to his advantage. After being stranded in Jamaica for months and the indigenous people refusing any more help to him and his crew.  Knowing that a lunar eclipse was due, Columbus gathered the native chiefs on Feb. 29 and told them God will punish them by painting the Moon red and the only way God would withdraw the punishment is if they would co-operate again. Soon, the panicked chiefs agreed and heaved a sigh of relief when the Moon emerged from its shadow. Pretty sly there Chris!

Now, one of the more fun traditions is the tradition of women proposing to men.  This happens on a leap day.  There are many historical explanations; one goes all the way back to the 5th Century, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women and to wait too long for their men to propose, so St. Patrick announced that a single day in a leap year, the last day of the shortest month would be the day women can propose to men!

In Denmark, the day when a woman can propose to her man is Feb. 24, a tradition that goes back to the time of Caesar. However, if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on that day, Danish men have to give 12 pairs of gloves to the lady and in Finland, if men refuse, they have to give fabric for a skirt.

In a few European countries such as Greece, leap years are considered bad luck and people are advised to avoid certain ceremonies and activities like weddings or buying a house. In Russia, leap years are believed to bring abrupt weather patterns and increased risk of deaths.

The town of Anthony in Texas, USA is known as the ‘Leap Year Capital of the World’ and holds a festival that includes a guided trip to an Aztec Cave, a party at the horse farm and square dancing. In 2016, the festival will run from Feb. 25-29.

Famous records associated with leap days:

St. Petersburg, Florida, became a city on a leap day in 1892 

 Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for her performance in “Gone with the Wind” on a leap day in 1940.

Other Fun Leap Year Facts:

The first ever Playboy Club was opened by Hugh Hefner in Chicago, Illinois on Feb. 29, 1960, a leap day.

 A baby born on a leap day is called a ‘leapling,’ or a ‘leaper.’ The probability of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461, as four years have 1,460 days with one extra day added in the leap year, bringing the total to 1,461. 

According to leap year folklore, beans and peas planted in this year 'grow the wrong way.

 Sir James Wilson (1812-1880), Premier of Tasmania is the only notable person known to have been born and died on Feb. 29.

 The civil code in China, since Oct. 10, 1929, suggests that the legal birthday of a leapling is on Feb. 28. In Hong Kong, March 1 is considered the legal birthday of someone born on a leap day.

 Feb. 29 is also marked as Rare Disease Day. 

In Champaign, we believe it's GREAT LUCK to Buy a Home during Leap Year...especially when Mortgage Rates are at Historic Lows! If you'd like to learn more about the Housing Market here in Champaign, give us a call at 217.202.8843 or visit our website