The leap year’s extra day is necessary because of the “messiness” of our Solar System. One Earth year (a complete orbit around the Sun) does not take an exact number of whole days (one complete spin of the Earth on its axis). In fact, it takes 365.2422 days, give or take.
This extra day, not to mention those few extra nano-seconds, give rise to some unusual traditions.
[I]n tradition of giving the opportunity for ladies to propose to their beau (if he hasn’t already done so, don’t bother girls) gave Harry Craddock at the Savoy Hotel the idea to make the proposal more amenable to the recalcitrant lover. First available at the bar on 29th February, 1928 the Leap Year Cocktail was said to have spurred many a marriage proposal:
2 ounces gin
½ ounce Grand Marnier
½ ounce sweet vermouth
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Serve with a twist of lemon
[B]ear with me on this one. The Queen sent no centenarian birthday telegrams on 29th February 2000, because there was no 29th February in 1900. A person born on 29th February 1896 would have celebrated their first birthday in 1904. The year 1896 was a leap year, thus February had 29 days. The next leap year was not until 1904. Leap years, which have 366 days instead of the common 365, are those years divisible by four, except centesimal (those ending in 00) years unless they are divisible by 400. Therefore, three of every four centesimal years are common years, including 1900. No, I can’t get my head around that either.
[O]n 29th February 1977, two members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were knocked unconscious after a scuffle broke out- between the band and members of the metropolitan police boxing team, who were holding a dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
[I]n an attempt to assist the ladies endeavouring to catch their man, on 29th February 2000 the London Aquarium offered a quirky service for women who wish to take advantage of 29th February. First there was a guided tour (it’s very dark in there so that should have given a more romantic ambience), then when the man might have suspected that something fishy was afoot a diver emerged in the tank clutching a personalised sign that pops the question.
That’s all for new, watch this space in four years time.