The Egyptians were the first to determine the need for a leap year, but the idea didn’t reach Europe until 46 B.C. During this time, Julius Caesar and the astronomer, Sosigenes of Alexandria, introduced the “Julius Calendar” with 12 months, 365 days and an extra day every four years. Unfortunately, it proved to be inaccurate. The calendar was off one day every 128 years.
In the 14th century, the calendar was 10 days off the solar year. Pope Gregory XIII revised the error and introduced the “Gregorian Calendar.” Instead of a leap year every four years, a leap year occurs every four years except for years evenly divisible by 100. Although the calendar is used today, it’s not 100 percent accurate and will need to be revised in roughly 10,000 years.
The Leap Day exists for purely astronomical reasons, yet it has inspired strange ideas and superstitions. Here are a few unique facts about February 29:
1. The day is often attributed to women proposing marriage to men instead of the other way around. The origins of this practice are unclear, but the most popular belief dates back to 19th century England. The Leap Day was not recognized by English law and didn’t have legal status. Under this theory, it was acceptable for a woman to break convention and propose to her true love.
A proposal on a Leap Day inspired superstitions in countries around the world. In Denmark, if a man refuses a woman’s proposal he must give her 12 pairs of gloves. In Finland, it’s not gloves, but fabric for a new skirt. Finally, in Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky and many couples choose to marry in a non-leap year.
2. There are not only leap years, but also leap seconds. They are added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and compensate for the slowing of the Earth’s rotation. The last leap second was added on June 30, 2015.
3. The chance of being born on February 29 is 1 in 1461. According to astrologers, those born under the sign of Pisces on a Leap Day will have unusual talents and personalities. Leap year babies officially celebrate their birthdays every four years, however many choose to celebrate on February 28 or March 1 during non-leap years.
4. The town of Anthony, Texas organizes a leap year festival. It considers itself the “leap year capital of the world.” Leap year babies, known as “leapers” or “leaplings,” come from all over the globe to participate in the festival parade.
5. In China, some believe more accidents occur during a leap month. They also avoid starting businesses or getting married during this time. If children are born in a leap month, the Chinese believe they are difficult and harder to raise.
6. Leap years are celebrated by drinking the official Leap Year Cocktail: 2 ounces of gin, ½ ounce of Grand Marnier®, ½ ounce of sweet vermouth and ¼ ounce of fresh lemon juice. The parts are stirred together and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
7. Karin Henriksen of Norway holds the world record for giving birth to the most children on consecutive Leap Days. She gave birth to her daughter on February 29, 1960 and her sons on Leap Days in 1964 and 1968.
8. Workers who have a monthly salary or fixed annual income work for free on Leap Day. Wages are not usually recalculated to accommodate the additional day.
9. Leap Year is the name of a movie released in 2010. It’s about a woman who travels to Ireland hoping to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day.
10. If an individual enters February 29 as a birthdate on the majority of websites, it prompts an error indicating it’s an invalid entry.
We at Isle of Capri Casino® Lake Charles want to celebrate Leap Year 2016 with the Leap Year Hot Seat! Every Sunday from February 7-21 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., three winners will be selected every hour to win up to $500 in FanPlay®. You must be seated at a slot machine or table game to have a chance to win. Grab a snack or drink at one of our fabulous restaurants, sit down at your favorite game, and wait for your chance to win big!