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Top 5 Facts about Leap Years

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Nathan Sharp It comes once every four years, and it confuses people every time. Welcome to Watchmojo's top five facts. In today's installment, we're looking at the most interesting facts that you probably didn't know about leap year, the year with one extra day in the calendar. Special thanks to our user akt for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Written by Nathan Sharp

Top 5 Facts About Leap Years


It comes once every four years, and it confuses people every time. Welcome to Watchmojo's top five facts. In today's installment, we're looking at the most interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about leap year, the year with one extra day in the calendar.

#5: Leap Year Was Introduced in 45 BC by Julius Caesar


While we as humans have been practicing some form of leap year-like calendar correction for much longer, it wasn't until 45 BC that the leap year we know of today became a tradition. Before Caesar, Romans and others used a 355 day calendar, rather than the 365 days we now observe, and added an extra 22 day month every two years. When the Julian calendar was introduced in 45 BC, it began the 365 day year with an extra day added every fourth year at the end of February, a practice we still uphold today.

#4: You Have a Higher Chance of Being Born with an Extra Toe Than You Do of Being Born on February 29


The chances of being born on February 29 are 1 in 1,461, so, if my math is any good, there are roughly 187,000 people in America and around four and a half million people around the world who were born on a leap day. Now, polydactylism is the condition where an individual is born an extra finger or toe. The chances of being born this way are around 1 in 500, meaning that you have a much better chance at being born with an extra finger than you do of being born on leap day. If somebody could work out the odds of being born with an extra digit on February 29th, you’re better at math than I am.

#3: There Are Many Folklore Traditions Regarding Marriage and Leap Days


And we’re not even referring to Leap Day William. While a leap year may mean just another day for North Americans, leap days carry much more power around the world. In Greece, getting married on a leap year is said to be bad luck, and one in five couples will deliberately avoid planning their wedding for a leap year. In Finland, Scotland, and Ireland, it is tradition for a woman to propose on a leap day, and if the man refuses, he has to give something in return. In Denmark, for instance, it was customary to give 12 pairs of gloves. Critics have argued both for and against this tradition, with some arguing that it is outdated and maintains oppressive, restrictive gender roles, while others see it as empowering for women.


#2: In Court, Leap Day Does Not Count as an Extra Day


But but but… Isn’t leap year just that: an extra day? Nevertheless, if you are sentenced to one year in prison during a leap year, you’re going to be in the slammer for 366 days. In 2001, an American woman tried to receive her dead ex-husband’s social security benefits, which she could have if they’d been married for at least 10 years. They divorced 3 days shy of their tenth anniversary, but she argued that the leap days accumulated and pushed their relationship over ten years. The court disagreed. Not only is its legal status kind of confusing, but the governments of the world can't agree on leap day birthdays. In New Zealand and Taiwan, for example, they are celebrated on February 28, but in the UK leap day birthdays legally fall on March 1.

#1: Those On a Fixed Annual Wage Work for Free on Leap Day


Those of you collecting an hourly wage have nothing to worry about, but to those of you on a salary, be prepared to work for nothing. Because salaries pay by the year, 365 days are covered. Employers generally pay the same amount each year, regardless of whether or not there's an extra day added, so employees around the world are kind of working for free every February 29. Of course, the other side of the argument is that no, you’re not working for free because you are paid an annual income and a year is actually 365 and a quarter days. Nevertheless, the debate rages on, but if you ask us, we should just lay that argument to rest and make Leap Day an official holiday.

So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and make leap day a holiday? Or should we cut the year down to 355 days and have an extra month now and then? For more non-skippable top tens and unpaid labor top fives, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.







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