This February Has an Extra Day! It’s Leap Year.

By Melissa Shrader Editor Publisher Loveland Macaroni KID February 26, 2024

Why do we have leap years?

It’s to keep our calendar in sync with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. The Earth’s rotation follows a tropical year starting on the March equinox. It’s 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds to go around the sun. (Yes, I totally looked this up).

The calendar we use (Gregorian) only has 365 days. In order to keep things aligned, we add a full day to the calendar every 4 years. Leap days fix the lost time by adding it to the calendar every 4 years to take account of the full cycle around the sun.

Want to calculate Leap years? 

I found a fun math link that explains things in a fun way for kids of all ages.  Math is Fun! Leap Years Link.

Do you know someone who was born on a leap day? 

Your friend (or you) is called a Leapling. Many of these people celebrate on February 28th or March 1st on non leap years.

Fun Traditions For Leap Year

Leapers festival in Anthony New Mexico celebrates Leaper or Leaplings birthday February 29th. Leaplings from around the world come to celebrate their special day.

In Greece people avoid getting married in Leap years (especially Leap day) because they feel it’s unlucky.

In France you can read La Bougie du Sapeur is a satirical French newspaper that only comes out every 4 years on February 29th. It’s inspired by an old comic strip whose main character was born during Leap year on Leap day.

In Rhineland Germany Birch tree gifts are given. The tradition goes that in south Germany a lovestruck boy leaves a small birch tree decorated with ribbons on the doorstep of his crush on May Day. Ladies deliver their birch trees on February 29th.

People in London England raise a glass and toast Leap Day with a specific Leap Day Cocktail. It was created in 1928 by Harry Craddock who was a bartender at The Savoy. It combines Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, gin, and a dash of lemon juice.

On Leap Year in Ireland a woman can propose to a man

Fun ways to celebrate Leap Day specifically for kids:

Wake up in the morning and jump around like frogs! Get up it’s Leap Day!!! Yay It’s Leap Day!!

Make Leap Frog goodies! Cupcakes with frog faces, or green gummy frogs are fun.  

Practice some math – Skip count by 4’s, simple addition by 4’s, simple multiplication by 4’s, Divide everyone’s age by 4 to see how old they would be if they were leaplings.

Enhance your meals and snack time by adding 24 (to signify the 24 extra hours) or 29 (to signify Leap day) – 29 extra raisins for your snack today, 24 extra chocolate chips for your treat, 29 cheerios, 29 sprinkles to top your pancakes or waffles.

See into the future! Imagine how old you will be in 4 years? How tall will you be? How long will your hair be? How will you dress? How much will you weigh? What will everyone be doing? What grade will you be in? Put your predictions in a time capsule if you like. Grab a jar or shoe box and keep the predictions to open next Leap year 2028.

Leap at Lunch! Jump around like a frog.

Explore the number 29 (or 24). Give your child $29 to shop with. See what they come up with. Travel 29 miles from home and see where you end up. Cheaper option, get out a map and see what you can do within a 29-mile radius. Walk in 29 steps and see where you end up.

Create a treasure hunt where you have the kids take 29 steps to each thing on the list, and/or find 29 things.

Plant 29 blooms – pick something you want to grow and plant 29 seeds. They don’t all have to be the same. You’ll get 29 blooms to enjoy.

Dress up. Dress up like a frog for the day. Have fun and play!

Set aside 29 minutes to do something special. Sit down and tell each other what you love about each other.

Read stories about Leap Year, Leap Day:

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY...FINALLY! A Leap Year Story by Michelle Whitaker Winfrey

LEAP'S DAY Stephanie Bee Simmons

LEAP DAY A Read with Pooh... All Year Through! Series by Disney

FEBRUARY THE 29TH by Kenneth Steven


A LEAP OF LOVE by Catherine Lim

THE LEAP YEARBOOK by Barbara Sutton-Smith

LEAP DAY a novel by Larry W. Payton Jr.

RING OF FIRE The Century Quartet by P. D. Baccalario

STAR OF STONE The Century Quartet by P. D. Baccalario

CITY OF WIND The Century Quartet by P. D. Baccalario

DRAGON OF SEAS The Century Quartet by P. D. Baccalario

Something special for any age to do:

Set your life goals for the next four years. Do a vision board or just write down your main goal to achieve in 2028.

Write a letter to yourself to open on the next Leap day.

Make a Leap Year Time Capsule – super fun for littles! Time passes so quickly for little ones. Take a few items or write something specific about your kids down and decorate a jar and put the items in for safe keeping until next Leap day!

Leap into spring. Do some spring cleaning projects (make them simple but satisfying) to ring in spring.

Throw a Leap Day Party! Invite some friends over and throw a party with Leap frog games, frog cupcakes, Kiss the frog (similar to pin the tail on the donkey) a plastic frog scavenger hunt. Or do a throw back party to a former Leap Year. Or a mascaraed party with characters from leap years only.

Pay it forward with an act of kindness – Give out some unexpected kindness. Give a card to someone down on their luck. Pay for someone’s ice cream. Give some clothes, coats etc to a shelter. Offer to babysit for a friend. Call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while.

Watch the movie Leap Year – Like Groundhog Day you can find Leap Year a fun way to pass the day. 

A few historical Leap Year events:  

Rome burned July 18 “64”

The Black Death reaches it’s peak in Europe 1348

Ponce de Leon lands in Florida April 1512

Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Massachusetts December 22 1620

Isaac Newton publishers Optiks his seminal work on optics and light 1704

Benjamin Franklin Proved his theory of Lightening is Electricity June 10 1752

Gold was discovered in California January 24th 1848

Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States November 6 1860

Titanic sank April 14 1912

Curiosity the first rover to land on Mars touches down Aug 5 2012