Taking a Leap: Feb. 29, 2016

Posted by Anna Keagy on February 29, 2016

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It’s Feb. 29, that day that only comes once every four years. Happy Leap Day!

In honor of the extra day this month, here are a few facts about leap days:

  • The calendar we use, the Gregorian calendar, is closely based on the Julian calendar, which was implemented by Julius Caesar in45 B.C.
  • A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes 365.2422 days to complete. Since the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days, an extra day is added to the end of February every four years in order to keep our clocks and calendars in sync with the Earth and its seasons.
  • Did you know that 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, even though 2000 was? Since an earth year is not exactly 365.25 days long, we actually lose three days every 400 years. There is a leap year every year that is divisible by four, with the exception of years that are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.
  • The odds of being born on a leap day are one in 1,461. People who are born on a leap day are called “leaplings” or “leapers.”
  • An old Irish tradition is for women to propose to men on leap day.

So what do people do with the extra day? Admittedly, most of us don’t really do anything different from our normal routines. But some will go out of their way to commemorate the day. For example, leap day made it on Loverly’s list of “best” days to get married. While the fact that leap day falls on a Monday this year is a deterrent for weddings, the unique factor will lead some couples to exchange vows on Feb. 29.

Leap day falling on a Monday also provides a good excuse for turning the weekend into a long weekend, and businesses are taking advantage of that. While not exactly a major consumer marketing event, leap day does provide an opportunity for businesses to offer special sales or promotions. For example, JetBlue had a promotion offering $29 one-way flights in a “Book Before You Leap” sale. This flash sale included offers such as a $29 flight from NYC to San Francisco, or a $29 flight from Boston to Seattle. Expedia is running a one day leap day promotion for 29 percent off select hotels worldwide. Not a bad way to celebrate an extra day!

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to travel and turn it into a true long weekend, you can still take advantage of leap day specials to brighten your Monday. For example, a number of restaurants are offering special promotions. Some of these are specifically for people with a leap day birthday – for example, Hard Rock Café is offering a free entrée from its Leaplings Eat Free menu. Others deals are more accessible to the general public, such as Tropical Smoothie Café offering loyalty program members a Classic Smoothie for $2.29 instead of its normal price of about $4.49.

Rather than focusing on promotions, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce in New York is taking a different approach to leap day. The Chamber is encouraging businesses to use the extra day to spread good will in a “Leap of Kindness Day” initiative.

Do you plan to do anything to commemorate Leap Day 2016?