The Earth orbits the sun every 365 days and 6 hours. So once every 4 years, this accumulated time gives us an extra day. Before leap years, calendars were largely based on lunar months, which only totaled 354 days annually. This resulted in months of drift in the calendar, which generally caused a great deal of confusion- imagine celebrating the harvest festival before any seeds had been sown!
Thankfully, Leap Days were devised to iron everything out, so we now can be rest assured that we won’t ever have Christmas in the height of Summer.
Here’s a rundown of some of the historical leaps forward that were made on this day. 45 BC – The first Leap Day was recognised by Julius Caesar, who could no longer cope with feast days sliding into different seasons.
1288 – The Scottish Parliament passed a Leap Year Act whereby women could propose to men on this day only.
1692 – The Salem Witch Trials were sparked when Sarah Goode and Tituba were accused of witchcraft in Salem.
1892 – Britain and the USA signed a treaty on seal hunting in Bering Sea.
1940 – Hattie McDaniel becomes the first black woman to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind.
1952 – The first pedestrian “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs were installed at Times Square, New York.
1960 – Hugh Hefner opens the first Playboy Club in Chicago.
1964 – Frank Rugani set the badminton shuttlecock distance record of 24.3 metres.
1980 – President Carter signed a law that more than doubled the size of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and placed a ban on oil drilling.
2008 – Virginia’s Supreme Court handed out the first conviction for illegal spamming, ruling that Virginia’s anti-spamming law does not violate free-speech rights.
2012 – The Tokyo Skytree construction was completed, making it the tallest tower in the world at 634 metres and the second tallest man-made structure on Earth after the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
And now here we are in 2016. You have an extra 24 hours- perhaps it’s your turn to make an important leap forward?
If you’re considering a moving your business communications into the cloud, we guarantee you won’t need to take a leap of faith.
Originally published Feb 29, 2016, updated Aug 11, 2020