1. February 29 is a date that occurs only every four years, in years evenly divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996, 2008 or 2016 (with the exception of century years not divisible by 400, such as 1900). These are called leap years. 2008 is a leap year.
2. Although the modern calendar counts a year as 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, an extra twenty-four hours have accumulated, so one extra day is added to that calendar to keep the count coordinated with the sun’s apparent position.
3. A leap day is more likely to fall on a Monday than on a Sunday.
4. There was a tradition that women may make a proposal of marriage to men only in leap years, further restricted in some cases to only February 29. There is a tradition that in 1288 the Scottish parliament under Queen Margaret legislated that any woman could propose in Leap Year; few parliament records of that time exist, and none concern February 29. Another component of this tradition was that if the man rejects the proposal, he should soften the blow by providing a kiss, one pound currency, and a pair of gloves (some later sources say a silk gown).
5. A person who was born on February 29 may be called a “leapling”. In non-leap years they may celebrate their birthday on 28 February or 1 March.
6. Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew. (1504)
7. “Gone with the Wind” won eight Oscars at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, including Best Picture of 1939. (1940)
On February 29:
8. Jeanne Sauvé appointed first female Speaker of the House of Commons, Canada (1980)
9. Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced resignation as Canadian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party (1984)
10. b.1904 – Jimmy Dorsey, American bandleader;
11. b.1920 – James Mitchell, American actor;
12. b.1468 – Pope Paul III, Italian noble and last Renaissance Pope
13. b1840 – John Philip Holland, the Irish-born, American inventor known as the father of the modern submarine