Quotes about Leap Day & Leap Year

Welcome to my page of quotations about leap years, leap days, February 29th, leap seconds, and leap birthdays. I’ve spent many fun, eye-blearing hours looking through old books to find references to this quadrennial day and its associations. Enjoy!  SEE ALSO:  BACHELORS DAY, THIRTY DAYS HATH SEPTEMBER  —ღ Terri

It takes three springs to make one leap year. ~The Comic Almanack, c. 1852

To find leap year you have this rule:—
Divide by iv, what’s left shall be,
For leap year 0, for past i, ii, and iii.
~Harris, quoted by Johnson & Denham, c. 1750

During a Leap Year, as Leap Day approached, I began to have this sense I was to get what I always seem to need: an extra 24 hours in the day… Then I started to think Leap Day should be designated a holiday so people can take advantage of the extra 24 hours however they wished… By marking this bonus day in some special way, we would celebrate time — really consider what it means to have time here on Earth — and thus, be present with our life and our time together. ~Kara Douglass Thom, “Look Where You Leap,” Winning as a Fit Mom, 2015

This being Leap Year the signs of the Zodiak are all on the rampage. Although the signs of the Billings Zodiak are all on the jump this year… there is no cause for alarm. Once in four years this frolic occurs, and is said by the doctors to be necessary for their health. ~Josh Billings, Farmers’ Allminax, 1872   [spelling standardized —tg]

Another day, another day…! ~Walter Scott, The Bridal of Triermain, 1813  [This wasn’t originally written in the context of Leap Year Day, but I saw it used as such in a birthday book from the 1800s and thought it was rather clever. —tg]

      I am a little fellow,
      Though I’m always up to date.
The days I hold within my hand are only twenty-eight;
      But I just save my moments up,
      And count them o’er and o’er,
Till in four years I’ve saved enough to make up one day more.
But little folks that kindly are, and pleasant in their play,
May save enough in far less time to make a happy day.
~Pauline Frances Camp, “February,” in St. Nicholas, February 1906

A strange amazing day that comes only once every four years… A day of temporal tune up! ~Vera Nazarian, 2010

The while you clasp me closer,
The while I press you deeper,
As safe we chuckle,—under breath,
Yet all the slyer, the jocoser,—
“So, life can boast its day, like leap-year,
Stolen from death!”
~Robert Browning (1812–1889), “St. Martin’s Summer”

Surely this was a sign on Leap Year night!… It’s the 29th. Go in and win. Don’t be afraid. ~A. A. Milne, Lovers in London, 1905  [a little altered —tg]

For leap year comes naething but ance in the four. ~Robert Shennan, “Leap Year,” Tales, Songs, and Miscellaneous Poems, Descriptive of Rural Scenes and Manners, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, 1831

In 1582 Pope Gregory found there had been ten superfluous leap years and took ten days out of the calendar, and reduced the future number of leap years. In 1752 the English adopted the system, allowing eleven days for error, as it had been constantly increasing. This is a very simple matter, but it has puzzled old heads. ~Charles W. Felt, “The True Forefathers’ Day,” in Holy-Days and Holidays, compiled by Edward M. Deems, 1902

Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, apart from those years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do… The Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years… The marginal difference of 0.000125 days between the Gregorian calendar average year and the actual year means that, in 8,000 years, the calendar will be about one day behind where it is now. ~Rob Leigh, “February 29: 29 things you need to know about leap years and their extra day,” The Daily Mirror, February 2012

Intercalary: Inserted out of the common order to preserve the equation of time, as the twenty-ninth of February in a leap year is an intercalary day. ~A Dictionary of the English Language, by Robert Gordon Latham, founded on that of Dr. Samuel Johnson, as edited by H. J. Todd, 1866

The year of the sun consisteth of three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours, wanting eleven minutes; which six hours omitted, will, in time, deprave the compute: and this was the occasion of bissextile, or leap year. ~John Brown, c. 1806

Mudar bisiesto.— “To alter one’s course.”— “Bisiesto,” is the Spanish for our Bissextile or leap year. The proverb signifies that a man has begun to repent his follies. ~A Dictionary of Spanish Proverbs, translated into English with explanatory illustrations by John Collins, 1823

In 452 B.C., the Decemvirs placed February after January, and fixed the order of the months. The year at this time consisted of 365-¼ days. According to the imperfect mode of reckoning by the Romans, after the addition of January and February, the twenty-fourth of February was called the sixth before the calends of March, sexto calendas. In the intercalary year this day was repeated and styled bis sexto calendas — whence we derive the term bissextile. The corresponding term leap-year is, however, infelicitously applied, inasmuch as it seems to intimate that a day was leaped over, instead of being thrust in, which is the fact. ~Frederick Saunders, “The Cycle of the Seasons,” Salad for the Solitary and the Social, 1871  [a little altered —tg]

24-7, I want to make our love better
I want to make our love better
12 months in the year
52 weeks per annual
365 days a year
Leap year makes it better
~Myles W. Wallace, “24-7,” Poems from My Heart, 2014

In Leap Year the weather always changes on a Friday. ~Belgian proverb, as quoted in Rev. Charles Swainson, A Handbook of Weather Folk-Lore, 1873  [Supposedly Friday was considered an unlucky day. How crazy is that⁈ —tg]

Anyone born on February 29 may be called a “leapling” or a “leaper”. In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1… In Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, the character of Frederic the pirate apprentice is nobbled when he discovers that he is bound to serve the pirates until his 21st birthday rather than until his 21st year… According to astrologers, people born under the sign of Pisces on February 29 have unusual talents and personalities reflecting their special status. ~Rob Leigh, “February 29: 29 things you need to know about leap years and their extra day,” The Daily Mirror, February 2012

Some leaplings come up with their own rituals to mark non-leap years. Jan Harrell of Ashland, Oregon, handles off years by staying up until midnight with friends who shout “Happy birthday!” in “that magical nanosecond” between February 28 and March 1. “My birthday feels like a cosmic joke,” said Ms Harrell, who turns 64 (16) this week. “But not a bad one, just a very, very funny one.” ~Associated Press, “America’s 200,000 leap year babies make the most of their unique birthdays,” February 2012

Why, of all times, could you have selected this odd month and day, for friends to load you with good wishes? ~Birthday letter quoted in J. R. Macduff, Birthdays, 1893  [February 29th birthday —tg]

February, and the groundhog
      shied earlier:
      a blizzard hit
      after milder weather.
But now it’s Leap Day
      —or Sadie Hawkins Day
      when Dogpatch erupts
      with pillow-busted
Daisy Maes hotly
      pursuing Abners.
      At any rate, it’s spring;
      or nearly. March’s wind
swims in grit and leaves
      the house smelling fresh
      even with windows closed…
~Crystal Bacon, “Leap Year,” Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, 2004

To distinguish days of the week in the calendar, we appropriate letters — A, B, C, &c. The dominical letter, or the letter for Sunday, is not constantly the same, but is changed once in every common year, and in every fourth, or leap-year, twice. And the reason is, first, because the common year does not consist of just weeks, but of 52 weeks, and one day. So that as the year begins with an A, set before New-year’s-day: so it ends with A, set before the last day. Thus the odd day shifts back to the dominical letter every year, by one letter. And this revolution would be terminated in 7 years. There comes in another odd day every 4th year, being Leap-year. And in that year there are consequently two such shifts, the Sunday letter being changed twice: once at the beginning of the year; and the 2d time towards the latter end of February, by interposition of the Bissextile, because the 6th of the Calends of March is twice repeated. And the reason why this was done in that month, and not rather at the end of the year seems to be, because by Numa’s institution for the better regulating the year (in imitation of what the Greeks had done before) there had been an intercalation of several days, at the very time in February. To take a more easy account of these changes, there is appropriated a cycle, which comprehends in order all the variations of the Sunday letter: and is therefore called, the Cycle of the Sun; composed of 4, which makes the Leap-year, and 7, the change of the one odd day, throughout the septimana, or week, 4 times 7 gives 28. This cycle begins at that Leap-year, wherein G and F are the Sunday letters, and is terminated at 28. ~William Holder, A Discourse Concerning Time, 1694  [Simplicity itself, right? 😂 Wording has been altered a little, by the way. —tg]

Frogs & Lizards really don’t care about the meaning of Leap Year
They leap more than 366 times a day without fear.
Now, let us not forget the leap-second,
Which was devised in 1971, I reckon,
To keep in harmony with solar time.
And does not cost us a nickel or a dime
It compensates for the slowing of the earth rotation,
And that my friends is quite a notation…
~Joe, “Leap Year,” Poems Cleverly Adorned with Words, 2010

Leap year folklore contends that beans and peas planted during a leap year “grow the wrong way”. ~Rob Leigh, “February 29: 29 things you need to know about leap years and their extra day,” The Daily Mirror, February 2012

A correspondent writes us that in the discussion of methods for the reform of the calendar, there is one that appears to be more practicable, and less objectionable, than any of those given. In a romance, the name and author of which are quite forgotten, the hero was restored to consciousness in the fashion of “Looking Backward,” after a century of oblivion. One of the reforms that he found had been effected was a rearrangement of the calendar, as follows: There were thirteen months of twenty-eight days each, all beginning and ending, of course on the same day of the week. This left one day in ordinary years, and two on leap years, to be disposed of. These were cared for by making the first the final day of the year, and calling it “Old Year’s Day.” The odd day in leap years was placed between Old and New Year’s Days, and called Leap Year Day. The great simplicity of this plan, the easy way in which it solves all the complications of our present calendar, must highly commend it. Every year and every month would begin on the same day of the week, presumably Sunday. From this beginning, and with exactly four weeks in each month, the day of the week upon which any date would fall would come quickly to mind. With but slight practice they would present themselves simultaneously. The one objection to it is that the Sabbath would be carried forward one day every year, and two days in leap year. There would be seven or eight consecutive week days at the end of the year. It would seem as tho the practical gain in simplicity and convenience would be sufficient to approve it. We wonder if God would object. ~“Reform of the Calendar” (editorial), in The Independent, 1911 April 20th

The people fear me; for they do observe
Unfather’d heirs and loathly births of nature.
The seasons change their manners, as the year
Had found some months asleep, and leapt them over.
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, c. 1599  [IV, 4, Prince Humphrey.  Okay, so this isn’t about leap years, but I liked the leaping time reference. —tg]

      This pamphlet is published to show with what freedom, and even recklessness, people of past ages made changes in their calendars, and also to assist in preparing the public mind for the few slight changes which should and must be made in our present Gregorian form. With these slight changes made, we will have secured the most scientific, the most convenient, and absolutely the best time calendar the world has ever known. An organized effort is being made to secure the adoption by Congress and by the League of Nations of the new Liberty Calendar.
      Under this plan our present complicated and inconvenient arrangement can easily be made so simply and convenient that printed calendars would soon be unknown. Only three simple changes are required:
      First, make New Year Day an independent legal holiday. Have it fall between the last day of December and the first day of January. Do not include it in any week or month.
      Second, provide another independent legal holiday for Leap Year. Have it fall between the last day of one month and the first day of the next. Do not include it in any week or month.
      Third, divide the remaining 364 days into thirteen months of exactly four weeks each, making Monday the first day of every month and Saturday the last work day of every month.
      The name chosen for the new month is Liberty, which is placed next after February, so that in the new plan the months read — January, February, Liberty, March, etc. The independent legal holiday provided for Leap Year is termed “Correction Day.” In order to retain exactly one seventh of the time for Sundays, each seventh New Year Day becomes New Year Sunday, and each seventh Leap Year Day becomes Leap Year Sunday. While making the change, Good Friday and Easter Sunday should be placed on certain fixed dates.
      The changes would cause scarcely a ripple in our business or social life. Six months’ experience under this simplified form would make us wonder why we put up with the inconvenience of our present form so long. The advantages of this simplified calendar cannot be overestimated. ~Joseph U. Barnes, “The Liberty Calendar,” published by the American Equal Month Calendar Association, 1918  [a little altered —tg]

Leap Year & Leap Day Quotations
Original post date: 2016 Feb 1
1st major revision: 2016 Feb 28