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February 29th, because there is this day

You could say «Today, February 29th» paraphrasing a famous song and remembering the uniqueness of this day. The rule says it comes every four years. Tradition wants it to be fatal. Certainly the leap year is an anomalous year. He has one more day, February 29th. His name comes from Latin, a pope codified it and there are always the Olympics. But did you know that sometimes you skip?

What is a leap year

It is a year with one more day 366 instead of 365. It is added so that the seasons do not shift. Always maintaining 365 days, a day of delay would accumulate every 4 years because the average length of the year is 365.2425 days.

Already in the Julian calendar the need to add a day to regulate the seasons was understood. The day that the Romans added was February 24th, that is sexto die ante Kalendas Martiasthe sixth before the calends of March and became bis sexstobisest.


The one from the Gregorian calendar says: «A year is a leap year if its number is divisible by 4, with the exception of secular years (those divisible by 100) which are not divisible by 400». Every fourth year is a leap year, among the secular ones those who do not divide by 400 are eliminated. 1900 was not a leap year because it was not divisible by 400. 2100 will also be skipped.


In 46 BC, Julius Caesar introduced an extra day every 4 years to balance the accounts with the six hours that remained extra each year according to the calculations of the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria. Pope Gregory XIII with the papal bull of 1582 Inter very serious eliminated three leap years in every 400 at the beginning of the century. We had noticed a shift forward by always adding one day every 4 years and Easter was in danger of going into summer. In that year, October 4th to 15th suddenly jumped.

Leap year

The Anglo-Saxon world thus defines the leap year, the year of the leap. Dates after February 29 are moved forward two days of the week instead of just one from the previous year. A tradition linked to St. Patrick is that on February 29th girls can ask their boyfriend to marry them. Anyone who doesn't accept pays a fee, with 12 pairs of gloves, one per month, to hide the girl's still ringless hand.

Leap year, disastrous year

Nothing rational in this case either, but perhaps only the fact that a day was added in the month of February dedicated by the Romans to the deceased. However, the tradition remained. In 1400 Girolamo Savonarola's grandfather said that the bisesti were disastrous for flocks and vegetation, which brought epidemics and great tragedies. Among the sayings there are also: leap year a disastrous and sad year for what comes after it, a leap year all things go sideways, a leap year for those who cry and those who scream, a leap year without a sixth, that is, without sanity. Some also call it the year of the whale according to the belief that the whale only gives birth every four years.

Add to this that the last leap year was 2020, that of Covid, and the superstitious doubted the truthfulness of the saying. To go back to the 1908 earthquake in Messina, the 1968 earthquake in Belice and the 1976 earthquake in Friuli and the 2004 tsunami in Japan. Always remembering that there are misfortunes in all years.


February 29th has become National Rare Diseases Day, precisely because it is rare. February 29th has its saints: Saint Hilary, Blessed Antonia of Florence, Saint Oswald, Saint Augustus Chapdelaine.

Born on February 29th

The odds of being born on this day are 684 in a million. Few of the famous. Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III of the Council of Trent, born on 29 February 1468. In 1792, on 29 February, he was born Gioacchino Rossinithe author of Barber of Seville. Between 4 and 5 million were born on February 29th, most usually celebrate the day before or the day after, those born in the morning prefer the 28th, those born in the afternoon, the first of March. There are associations that bring together those born on this date who organize collective birthdays.

There is a city between Texas and New Mexico, it's called Anthony, which has been named the Leap Year capital and is ready for the celebrations. Leapers also find their own online official company. Raenell Dawn, co-founder of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, told Quartz magazine that the worst problem is bureaucracy: online forms that don't allow you to fill in the correct date of birth, incorrect documents, Facebook that tells you that it doesn't you have a birthday. You turn 18 and 21 when there is no February 29th. «My Florida driver's license had my real date of birth, it also said “under 21 until 02-29-2009, a date that doesn't exist” Raenell Dawn said, also remembering that she met someone with February 28 on their birth certificate and March 1 on their driver's license. The woman signals the pride of uniqueness and also that of infinite youth. “My mother always said that one day I could tell the world that I was 10 and not 40.”

Source: Vanity Fair

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