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HomeLanguage LearningLeap Yr Defined: Fascinating Origins, Info, and Traditions From Across the World

Leap Yr Defined: Fascinating Origins, Info, and Traditions From Across the World

Hint the bissextile year again to its origin, and also you’ll discover none aside from…Julius Caesar. That’s proper: the enduring face of the Roman Empire is accountable for the enduring custom of this quadrennial day. The addition of an additional day each 4 years really improved the accuracy of the Roman photo voltaic calendar, higher aligning the passage of days with the Earth’s actions across the solar. 

And in contrast to different selections extra generally made on the emperor’s whim, this 45 BC bissextile year decree was well-informed. We now have Caesar’s crew of astute astrologists to thank for that one. 

You can say that many good issues come each 4 years: the Olympics and the FIFA World Cups are prime of thoughts. Plus, they’re all of the extra thrilling given how occasionally they happen. 

Leap Days, although? They’re extra of a wild card. Missing the fanfare of a sporting occasion, they’re painstakingly sensible. They could even beg extra existential questions like: What’s time? Is monitoring it a method of measurement or a futile try for management? Was Nietzsche proper when he stated that is all simply an “everlasting recurrence,” a flat circle? 

In any case, it’s as much as us to inject the enjoyable. It’s uncommon, it’s distinctive, and it solely comes as soon as each 4 years! Fortunately loads of cultures have risen to the event by embracing the novelty of the day with their very own traditions. 

From Eire to Italy, we’ll check out the numerous ways in which individuals all over the world select to rejoice beneath. Plus, we’ll reply all of your burning questions on leap years with extra on the place they got here from, which calendars really acknowledge them, and what occurs when a birthday falls on February 29. 

What’s a bissextile year? 

More often than not, February has 28 days. These are known as “widespread years.” In a bissextile year, an additional day is added to February. It’s because a yr is the period of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the solar—a photo voltaic yr—however that doesn’t occur in exactly 12 months that every final 24 hours (a complete of 8,760 hours). Fairly, it occurs in 12 months plus 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds…in order that additional time provides up after some time. 

A leap day is basically an accumulation of these additional hours, minutes and seconds. When it will get to the purpose of overflowing by a complete day, we make up for it on the calendar with this additional day in February. In any other case, we’d be out of synch earlier than lengthy.

Opposite to fashionable perception, leap years don’t at all times occur each 4 years. Since these spillover hours and minutes don’t add as much as exactly 24 hours, changes are made there as effectively. This retains the calendar and the seasons shifting on a predictable, cyclical foundation. 

Within the title of accuracy, bissextile year calendars have been adjusted over time. In 1582, effectively after Caesar applied leap years within the Julian Calendar, a crew of Italian astrologists recognized persistent points with this “spillover” time. The problem? 

Roman astrologists had miscalculated the size of the photo voltaic yr by a whopping 11 minutes. To account for the collected hole—a calendar that was roughly 10 days off from the precise photo voltaic cycle—Pope Gregory created the Gregorian calendar, which many international locations proceed to make use of at the moment. You’ll discover one other attention-grabbing addition on this calendar in that leap years don’t strictly happen each 4 years. Soar to the Leap Yr Calculation part for extra! 


Is 2024 a bissextile year? 

Sure, February 2024 may have 29 days, so it’s a bissextile year! Should you discovered your self with bold resolutions firstly of the yr, this could come as excellent news. Luxuriate in these bonus 24 hours to achieve your objectives even quicker. 

Talking of resolutions: have you ever tried studying a brand new language? With all this additional time, it is likely to be value including to the listing. With Rosetta Stone, you may examine off a lesson in 10 minutes or much less. Time is valuable, and we’re right here that will help you profit from it. 

Record of leap years 

Right here’s an inventory of leap years from 1900-2100. And sure, it’s full, however 1900 and 2100 will not be leap years. Soar to the Leap Yr Calculation part to be taught why! 

  • 1904
  • 1908
  • 1912
  • 1916
  • 1920
  • 1924
  • 1928
  • 1932
  • 1936
  • 1940
  • 1944
  • 1948
  • 1952
  • 1956
  • 1960
  • 1964
  • 1968
  • 1972
  • 1976
  • 1980
  • 1984
  • 1988
  • 1992
  • 1996
  • 2000
  • 2004
  • 2008
  • 2012
  • 2016
  • 2020
  • 2024
  • 2028
  • 2032
  • 2036
  • 2040
  • 2044
  • 2048
  • 2052
  • 2056
  • 2060
  • 2064
  • 2068
  • 2072
  • 2076
  • 2080
  • 2084
  • 2088
  • 2092
  • 2096

Leap Day traditions all over the world 

A handful of cultures have enjoyable flipping lengthy standing traditions on Leap Day, however others consider today are dangerous luck. That luck can final the entire day or the entire yr, relying on the superstition. Don’t take issues too significantly although. It truly is all in good enjoyable. Let’s check out the great and the dangerous of worldwide Leap Day beliefs! 

Eire, Scotland and elsewhere

Regardless of girls’s liberation, it’s nonetheless fairly widespread for males to suggest to girls relating to heterosexual relationships. In Eire and Scotland although, girls are identified to suggest to males throughout a bissextile year. On condition that leap years generally solely occur each eight years, some girls could have a really lengthy courtship!


Villages in Germany maintain the Maibaum (Maypole or Could tree) yearly beginning on the night time of April 30. Males embellish a tree, normally a birch, with coloured streamers or ribbons and put it in entrance of their beloved’s home. Then, they guard all of it night time lengthy. The following day everybody dances the Maypole Dance. When it’s a bissextile year although, roles are reversed: wives, girlfriends, and even secret admirers get to position their adorned tree in entrance of the home of the particular person they love, thus making their declaration public. Throughout leap years, solely the ladies dance the Maypole Dance.

Anthony, USA

This city, which straddles Texas and New Mexico, calls itself the Leap Yr Capital of the World, and it holds a competition normally lasting a few days each bissextile year. Celebrating these born on February 29 often known as “leaplings,” the competition options barbeque, stay cumbia bands, and lucha libre (Mexican-style wrestling). Cumbia is a tropical music type originating in Colombia that’s very fashionable in Mexico, and plenty of components of america the place Mexicans and Mexican Individuals stay.


We’d say that that is an anti-Leap Yr custom. In Greece specifically, they consider that marriages held throughout a bissextile year at all times finish badly. For individuals who do find yourself getting a divorce–and we’re guessing they’re not simply people who get married in a bissextile year–Greeks consider that in the event you do it on Leap Day, you’ll by no means discover love once more. 


The French have gotten a particular Leap Day newspaper throughout each bissextile year since 1980: La Bougie du Sapeur, which can also be distributed in different French-speaking international locations. Bougie is a candle and sapeur means “sapper,” basically a navy trench specialist. Satirical in nature, the broadsheet options an previous comedian e-book character, Camember—yep, near the French cheese’s title—who was born on Leap Day. La Bougie du Sapeur is the least often printed newspaper on the earth.


Anno bisesto, anno funesto is what they are saying in Italy about leap years. The little saying, which rhymes, means “Bissextile year, sorrowful yr.” Italians suppose leap years are unfortunate, in order that they keep away from making huge purchases throughout years with an additional day in them. Too dangerous for the true property brokers and automobile salesmen.

Are there any international locations that don’t acknowledge leap years? 

After Gregory’s papal bull, most international locations and territories tailored his calendar over time, though Greece and Russia waited till the early twentieth century to take action. 

Some international locations use a barely modified Gregorian calendar. Most different international locations that don’t use the Gregorian calendar nonetheless have some option to alter between their calendar and the Gregorian one, and these days, there are on-line converters for that. 

Which calendar a tradition makes use of additionally relies on spiritual elements. We’ve already talked about that many Arab international locations use the Gregorian calendar for secular conditions alongside the Islamic one for spiritual occasions. However some Orthodox Christian church buildings use a modified Julian calendar. The Hebrew calendar is used to set the dates for Jewish holidays and different spiritual occasions. This calendar provides on an additional lunar month each few years.

Some non-Arab international locations that don’t use the Gregorian calendar as their official one embody Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Thailand and Nepal. But these international locations typically add in a leap day or leap month now and again.

How you can calculate a bissextile year 

One of many Italian scientists behind the Gregorian calendar devised the bissextile year calculation we all know at the moment. As a result of, as we’ve acknowledged above, leap years don’t strictly happen each 4 years. As an alternative, we’ve got a two-part method or rule-of-thumb: 

  • If it’s a bissextile year, it have to be divisible by 4. 
  • Should you apply the above method to a brand new century (a yr divisible by 100), it should even be divisible by 400. 

If the yr doesn’t match the above standards, then it’s not a bissextile year. 365 peculiar days it’s! 


What occurs in case your birthday falls on a leap day? 

No canceled birthday events right here. Should you had been born on February 29, you continue to get to rejoice your birthday yearly. For these bissextile year infants, you’ll rejoice on February 28 or March 1 on peculiar years. 

Some locations like Taiwan have legally formalized of their civil codes that leaplings rejoice their birthday on February 28 for widespread years.

Celebrities and different well-known individuals with bissextile year birthdays

In fact there are some famend individuals who had been born on February 29. We’ve listed a number of attention-grabbing picks in historic order beneath. By the way in which, there have been a number of serial killers who additionally claimed the title of bissextile year child, however we’ll spare you these particulars. 

  • Ann Lee (1736-1784): Lee was an Englishwoman who immigrated to New York state and later based the spiritual group often known as the Shakers.
  • Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868): Most well-known for his comedic opera The Barber of Seville, Rossini was born in Italy and composed 39 operas in his lifetime.
  • Jimmy Dorsey (1904-1957): Dorsey was a well-known jazz musician and massive band chief.
  • Dinah Shore (1916-1994): Born in Tennessee in a bissextile year, Dinah Shore was an actress and singer who additionally had her personal radio program. Shore failed her singing audition for one more bissextile year child: Jimmy Dorsey.
  • Mary Ann Brown (1932-2021): A leap child herself and a Texan, Brown satisfied the governors of Texas and New Mexico, in 1988, to make Anthony, a bistate metropolis, the Leap Yr Capital of the world. There’s been a competition each bissextile year since. 
  • Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón (1972-): Pérez-Castejón is the Prime Minister of Spain and the Secretary Normal of the Spanish Socialist Employees’ Celebration.
  • Ja Rule (1976-): Ja Rule is a rap musician from New York Metropolis well-known for the highest hit he made with Ashanti known as “At all times on Time.”

What concerning the motion to remove leap years? 

Leap years are handy for photo voltaic cycles—much less so for monetary ones. The additional day in February can wreak havoc on monetary quarterly experiences and rates of interest provided that monetary quarters are 13-weeks lengthy, and rates of interest are calculated utilizing a 30-day month.

Financial professors Steve Hanke and Richard Henry at Johns Hopkins College are advocating for a everlasting calendar that features not simply February 29 however February 30! Every quarter would have two 30-day months adopted by a 31-day month. 

With the Hanke-Henry calendar, all years would begin on a Monday, too. This calendar is 364 days lengthy, however each 5 – 6 years, we’d get an additional week in December—basically a leap week. The creators of this calendar say it is going to make enterprise life simpler. Plus birthdays could be unaffected, at all times falling on the identical day. 

Nonetheless, we’re questioning how leap week infants would rejoice their birthdays throughout non-leap week years. 

Discover the world with Rosetta Stone

Leap years actually are what you make of them. Take the chance to suggest to the one you’re keen on or use it as an excuse to keep away from shopping for that new automobile. No matter you select, have enjoyable with the lore and luxuriate in figuring out the true, very sensible causes behind Leap Day! 

Leap Day speaks to a wider range of tradition, from superstitions to totally different modes of secular and non secular calendars. It’s simply one in every of many reminders of how studying about cultures brings us nearer along with new individuals and locations to like. 

Probably the greatest paths to understanding a tradition is studying a language, and with Rosetta Stone you are able to do that in an accessible approach that doesn’t require rote memorization. As an alternative, you’ll get small, immersive classes designed to be consumed at house or on the go, so you may leap into a brand new tradition shortly! 

Written by Rowena Galavitz

Rowena Galavitz is a Spanish translator, bilingual copy editor, and language and literature teacher with three grasp’s levels who loves Spanish and all issues Mexico. 



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