A frog holding a calendar saying February 29 and the slogan Happy Leap Day

Happy Leap Day!

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 28 February 2024 > Celebrate

If you are born on 29 February, you can consider yourself very special… or very unlucky!

The chances of being born on a leap day (the extra day we have every four years in leap years) are 1 in 1461. So, people born on that day are rare. But they also only have one "real" birthday every four years. Some "leap babies" cor "leaplings" celebrate on 28 February or 1 March, others on the Saturday nearest to their birthday. And some only celebrate every four years, but then they have a mega birthday.

Will You Marry Me?
In English-speaking countries there is a special Leap Day tradition: it is the day on which women can traditionally propose to men. Apparently St Patrick created the tradition in Ireland in the 5th century at the request of a nun who later became St Brigid. (The one who is honoured on Ireland’s most recently created public holiday, 1 February.) Another legend says that Scottish Queen Margaret had a law passed in 1288, stating that women could propose on 29 February and if the man refused he had to pay a fine. Unfortunately, there is no written trace of this law but the tradition is alive and kicking in English-speaking countries.

Why do we have leap years?
Because solar years are actually 365.25 days long. So every four years, we have an extra day to put us back in phase with the seasons.
Julius Caesar created Leap Day in 46 BCE when he introduced the Julian calendar we use today. Before that, the Romans used a lunar calendar and had an extra 22-day month every few years.


This one-minute report from Newsround, the BBC’s children’s news programme, is easy enough to use from A2.


Webpicks Useful websites and online tools for classroom use
> St Patrick’s Day on the Web