Happy Leap Day! Interesting nuggets about Feb 29

This year, February appeared to be long. Why? The answer is that 2016 is a leap year and had 29 days. A leap year happens every four years and has 366 days.

To put it simply: the Earth orbits the Sun in 365.2422 days. However, the Gregorian calendar has 365 days. An extra day is added to help synchronise the calendar year with the solar year.

Leap years were first introduced by Roman dictator Julius Caesar in the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago.

This all can be quite confusing if one is born on this day or knows somebody who is born on this date. How do they celebrate their birthdays. Statistically, there is 1 in 1,461 chance of being born on 29 February. Many stick to their Feb 29 birthdays or celebrate it on February 28 or March 1.

A person born on February 29 is referred to as “leaper.” He or she are said to possess unique talents and even special powers in some cultures.

In America, the latest trend has emerged with many shops and malls offering 29 per cent discount on February 29.

Another interesting fact is that there is even “Leap Capital of the World”. It is Anthony, Texas, in the United States. This tiny town hosts the Worldwide Leap Year Festival.

Since 1988, Anthony throws birthday festivals every leap year for people born on February 29. People throughout the USA and overseas travel to this tiny town to take part in parades, birthday dinners, and hot air balloon lifts.

Participants range from babies celebrating their first birthday to people in their 90s celebrating another leap day birthday. In 1992 a man registered his 104-year-old mother, born on a leap day, for the festival.

The trend started in 1988 when local resident Mary Ann Brown and her neighbor Birdie Lewis, both born on a leap day, approached the Chamber of Commerce with this unique idea. Since then the town has been celebrating leap year festival. The town even has a leap year birthday club for those born on a leap day.

In February 1988, the town’s Chamber of Commerce voted to sponsor the festival and did so until 2011. The governors of both New Mexico and Texas later declared Anthony the “Leap Year Capital of the World”.