This year, we’ll be experiencing a February 29, a date that only shows up on calendars in years that are divisible by four, such as 2024. February is still the shortest month of the year, even with its extra day, but Leap Day serves an important purpose.
The effects of leap years can vary depending on a country’s calendar, but the Gregorian calendar used by the United States counts a solar year as 365.25 days, slightly off from a calendar year, which is 365 days. Adding in an extra day roughly every four years makes up for the missing quarter-days, and allows us to maintain consistent seasonal years where weather and natural events are predictable.
People whose birthdays happen to fall on a Leap Day are sometimes called “leaplings” or “leapers,” and often celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1 in years that don’t contain their actual date of birth, February 29. (Which day is considered their legal birthday depends on the legal system where they live.)
Sometimes, Leap Years can cause problems with coding when a program incorrectly assumes that a year is or is not a leap year, as seen with bugs here and here. Contact troubleshooting or customer service if you suspect your device is encountering a problem due to Leap Day.
Many countries have traditions or superstitions surrounding Leap Years and Leap Days, but on the whole you are not expected to act any differently on February 29. Expect businesses, schools, and government buildings to operate on normal hours, and traffic to be normal as well.