It’s not every year that we get to see Feb. 29 on the calendar.
The 29th is commonly known as Leap Day, or the extra day we get every four years (most of the time… more on that later) to make sure our calendar and the solar year are as close together as possible.
Here are six things you may not know about Leap Years.
- WITHOUT LEAP YEARS, TODAY WOULD BE JULY 19, 2017
That’s according to the Los Angeles Times, which came to that date by adding previous Leap Days to today’s date.
- THE CONCEPT OF LEAP YEARS COMES TO US FROM ANCIENT EGYPT
The Egyptians realized the true length of the solar year (it takes Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to travel once around the sun) and so they had a calendar with a Leap Day every four years, according to National Geographic.
- THE LEAP YEAR SYSTEM STILL ISN’T PERFECT
When Julius Caesar introduced the concept of Leap Years to the calendar, his timing was so incorrect that the calendar was off by about 45 minutes within four years, LA Times reported. By the time Pope Gregory XIII came around, the calendar was off by about 10 days. The new Gregorian calendar — which is the calendar we currently follow — dropped those 10 days, adopted a Leap Day every four years and now skips Leap Years on centurial years that aren’t divisible by 4.
The Gregorian calendar is still off by about 26 seconds every year.
- THE CHINESE AND JEWISH CALENDARS HAVE 13 MONTHS IN LEAP YEARS, BUT AREN’T NECESSARILY EVERY FOUR YEARS
In the Chinese calendar, the extra month is given the name of the previous lunar month. This happens about every three years or so, whenever there are 13 moons in a Chinese year.
The Jewish calendar has an extra month seven times in a 19 year cycle called Adar I and it is considered a lucky month.
- THERE IS INDEED A LEAP YEAR CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
And it’s in the United States. Specifically, it’s in Anthony, Texas, near the New Mexico border. Celebrations include a Worldwide Leap Year Festival.
- ABOUT 4.1 MILLION PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD HAVE BEEN BORN ON FEB. 29
Famous birthdays include Jimmy Dorsey (famous saxophone player), Al Rosen (baseball player), Ja Rule (rapper) and Chris Conley (musician and songwriter).