When is Leap Year? Find out the next Leap Day, how to calculate Leap Years, Leap Year folklore, and more!
A “Leap” Day is an extra day on February 29 which is added nearly every 4 years to today’s Gregorian calendar.
A “leapling” is a person born in a leap year. Any Leap Day babies amongst our readers? We’d love to hear from you.
How Do We Calculate Leap Years?
Here are the rules for leap year, just to set the record straight.
A year is a leap year if it is divisible by 4, but century years are not leap years unless they are divisible by 400.
So, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 was.
Non-leap years begin and end on the same day of the week.
Leap Year Dates
|Year||Leap Year Day|
|2016||Monday, February 29|
|2020||Saturday, February 29|
|2024||Thursday, February 29|
Why Do We Need Leap Years?
One orbit of Earth around the Sun takes 365.2422 days—a little more than our Gregorian calendar’s 365. Adding an extra day, aka a leap day, to the calendar every 4 years brings the calendar in line and therefore synchronizes with the four seasons.
Without leap days, the calendar would be off by 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45 seconds each year. After 100 years, the seasons would be off by 25 days. The extra leap day adjusts this drift.
But it’s not a perfect match: Adding a leap day every 4 years overcompensates by a few extra seconds each leap year, adding up to about 3 extra days every 10,000 years.
Leap Year Folklore
Always remember this:
“Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year” (old proverb)
According to folklore, in a leap year, the weather always changes on Friday.
Did You Know: Ages ago, Leap Day was known as Ladies’ Day, as it was the one day when women were free to propose to men.
Are Leap Years Bad Luck?
Many feel that to be born on Leap Day, thereby becoming a “leapling,” is a sign of good luck.
In some cultures, it is considered bad luck to get married during a leap year.
We don’t know of any evidence supporting that marriage theory, but we do know that during leap years:
- Rome burned (64),
- George Armstrong Custer fought the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876),
- and the Titanic sank (1912).
By the same token, also in leap years:
- the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620),
- Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity (1752),
- and gold was discovered in California (1848).
Do you have any Leap Year memories? Please share!