Learn Leap Day history, lore on this Feb. 29

We all know there are 365 days in a year, right?

Well, not exactly. It takes the Earth 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds to orbit the Sun. We account for those extra hours every four years by adding an extra day to the end of February. For the first time in The Hinsdalean’s history, Leap Day is also publication day!

To celebrate, we’ve compiled this list of little known facts to provide both education and cocktail party conversation for the weekend.

Happy Leap Day!

• The Julian calendar, which Julius Caesar introduced in 45 BC, included an extra day every year. But the math wasn’t exactly right, and the solar year was overestimated by about 11 minutes.

• In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the calendar to compensate for the extra 11 minutes by eliminating Leap Day every 200 years. If a year is divisible by 100 but not by 400, leap year is skipped. This happened last in 1900 and it will happen again in 2100.

• There was no Feb. 29 in the Julian calendar. Early leap years repeated Feb. 23

• Leap Day is also St. Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York, who died on Feb. 29, 992.

• Some cultures use calendars that do not apply the same leap year rules as the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese calendar adds a leap month every three years to keep in line with the Earth’s rotation. The Ethiopian calendar adds one extra day at the end of the year every four years.

• Two families hold Guinness Book World Records related to Leap Day, one for producing three consecutive generations born on Feb. 29 and the other for having the most children born on Feb. 29 in the same family.

• In Greece, some believe it is bad luck to get married in a leap year or on Leap Day.

• A tradition dating back to fifth century Ireland allows women to propose marriage to a man on Leap Day.

• When Scotland added the above practice as law in 1288, women were required to wear a red petticoat when proposing. A refusal also required compensation from the gentleman.

• Hattie McDaniel, known for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind,” was awarded the first Academy Award for an African American on Leap Day 1940.

• La Bougie du Sapeur, a French satirical newspaper, comes out only once every four years on Leap Day. It is named after a leapling character from an old French comic strip.

• Anthony, a city divided by the New Mexico-Texas boarder, claims to be the Leap Year Capital of the World.

• a Brit from Shoreham, West Sussex, started a petition this year to change Leap Day to a warmer month, like June.

• Famous leap year babies include writer Saul Williams, born in 1972; actor Dennis Farina, born in 1944; and actress Dinah Shore, born in 1916.

• Only about 5 million people in the world were born on Feb. 29. The odds of being born on Leap Day are about 1 in 1,461.