Special Report

Why We Need Leap Day and Other Surprising Facts About Feb. 29

Hristina Byrnes

Most people know that a leap year is every four years and that it has something to do with the Earth circling the sun. But many may not be aware of the purpose of this extra day — and may know even less about how it came to be.  

The whole story is complex and it goes back to ancient Roman times. Since then February 29 has prompted some unusual customs, wild rumors, and strange superstitions — from bad luck for full-time employees to good luck for women who want to get married, and special talents for those born on leap day, often referred to as leaplings. 

The chances of being born on leap day, February 29, are remote. Less than 0.1% of the world’s population is a leapling. Many leaplings have made significant contributions in fields ranging from music to sports — here are 25 famous people born on leap day.

Click here for 20 surprising facts about leap day.