Leap Year, Explained: What’s With This Extra Day, Anyway?

Your year just got even longer, which has both pluses and minuses

A calendar showing Leap Day (Getty Images)

Feel like 2024 is flying by at an alarming rate? The bad news: Yes, yes it is. The good news: We get an extra day this year, Feb. 29, to fill things out a little bit. It’s a rare extension that occurs only every four years, with rare exceptions.

But how did this extra day come about, and what does it mean to you? Read on. TheWrap has the answers you didn’t realize you were looking for.

Why do we have Leap Year, anyway?

Believe it or not, the universe does not move in lockstep with our puny human calculations. It takes the Earth slightly longer than 365 days to orbit the sun. Over time, calendar years drift apart from the events that the year is supposed to track. (Aww, sad!) Leap year occurs to keep the 365-day calendar year locked in with the seasonal year. That means tacking an extra day on at the end of February. Think of it as resetting your watch, on a cosmic scale!

So, do I get the day off?

No, it’s not a holiday or anything. In fact, since Leap Day falls on a Monday this year, it means an extra day of work. But if it makes you feel better, feel free to half-ass it — just like this list!

My birthday is on Feb. 29, and it really sucks. Is there any upside to it?

Yes, it’s tough for you Leap Day babies; because the date of your birth only officially comes around every four years, three-quarters of your birthday celebrations are kind of lame. But put it in flip-mode — that means every fourth birthday celebration is extra-special! Plus, if it’s your birthday today, Pizza Hut wants to give you free pizza! Not bad, right?

Who else is a Leap Day baby?

Fear not, you’re in good company; rapper Ja Rule, Mark Foster of Foster the People, actor Antonio Sabato Jr. and motivational speaker Tony Robbins all share your birthday. You’re also in not-so-good company, unless you enjoy sharing a birthday with serial killers Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker.