When is the next Leap Year? Find out when the next Leap Day will be and how to calculate Leap Years, then learn about the history and folklore behind Leap Years.
What is a Leap Day?
A “Leap Day” is the extra day—February 29—which is added nearly every 4 years to today’s Gregorian calendar. The short explanation for this is that adding an extra day keeps our calendar aligned with the seasons. (Keep reading for the longer explanation!)
A “leapling” is a person born on a leap day. Any Leap Day babies out there? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
How Do You Know if it’s a Leap Year?
Here are the rules for leap years, 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.)
- Leap years have 366 days, rather than the usual 365.
- Non–leap years begin and end on the same day of the week.
When is The Next Leap Year?
|Year||Leap Year Day|
|2020||Saturday, February 29|
|2024||Thursday, February 29|
|2028||Tuesday, 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 nice, round number of 365. Because of this difference, our calendar gradually gets out of sync with the seasons. Adding an extra day, aka a “leap day,” to the calendar every 4 years brings the calendar in line and therefore realigns it with the seasons.
Without leap days, the calendar would be off by 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds more 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 Facts and Folklore
Always remember this:
- According to folklore, in a leap year, the weather always changes on Friday.
- Ages ago, Leap Day was known as Ladies’ Day, as it was the one day when women were free to propose to men.
- “Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year” (old proverb)
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),
- 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? Are you a Leapling yourself? Please share in the comments below!