Leap Day facts, bizarre rituals, and bad for lovers?

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The average American will only get to see Leap Day about 20 times in their lifetime, so it's definitely worth celebrating!

But how did it all come about?

For a lengthy answer full of fascinating facts dating all the way back to Julius Caesar, click here.

The short answer is that it takes the earth a few hours longer than 365 days to orbit the Sun each year.

All of those hours add up to an extra day every four years, thus giving us Leap Day, designed to leap ahead so our calendars can catch up to the earth's orbit.

And the rare day comes with some odd rituals and historic events:

  • According to International Business Times, many countries only allow women to propose to men on Leap Day, which is a tradition that dates back to 400 A.D.. In Denmark, if the man refuses, he must give the woman a dozen pairs of gloves; in Finland, he must give her fabric to sew a skirt; in Ireland, he will be fined a kiss, or all of the above.
  • Many people celebrate Leap Year by eating the legs of leap frogs!
  • February 29th, 1692 was the first day that women accused in the Salem Witch Trials were arrested in Massachusetts, which led to the deaths of 27 women.
  • The Telegraph reports that many engaged couples in Greece believe it's bad luck to get married in a leap year. And in Italy, folks warn against weddings with the saying 'Anno biseto tutte le donne senza sesto,' which, in English, means, 'In a leap year, women are erratic.'
  • Mothers have a 1 in 1,461 chance of giving birth on Leap Day. Currently, about 4.1 million "Leaplings" roam planet earth, including three siblings, all born on Leap Day four years apart, to the Estes family in Utah in 2004, 2008, and 2012, reports the New York Daily News.
  • In 1960, a 5.7 earthquake in Morocco killed up to 15,000 people in Agadir, about one-third of the city's population.
  • Summer Olympic Games and presidential elections are always held in a leap year.


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