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The Leap Day Phenomenon

[Leap Day William via NBC]

Is it just me, or is everyone talking about leap day today? I mean, more than even the fact that it is a bizarre event that only occurs every four years would encourage? I have been looking forward to this day since last week’s 30 Rock episode, in which the story of fabled “Leap Day William” is told– he who rises from the Mariana Trench wearing blue and yellow to give out candy in exchange for children’s tears every Leap Day. The episode piqued my interest in the day and caused me to wonder if it is in fact a bigger deal in people’s minds then I had thought– having only ever considered it a weird quirk of the calendar and not a holiday-type event worthy of celebration.

I was interested in what else people were talking about in relation to this bonus day, so naturally I went to Visible Intelligence® to find out!

The main things that…leap (sorry) out are the subjects of special leap day deals or sales, discussion about having a birthday on leap day, and chatter about how one observes or celebrates the day. I also decided to throw in any mention of Leap Day William because, at least in my circle, it seemed to be a popular subject.

[Leap Day Share of Voice]

It looks like the mythic man hasn’t taken off in a bigger sense yet, but it does take a fair piece of the pie for being a made up reference from a relatively low-viewed (though loved by fans and critics) television show.

The largest chunk discusses how one should observe Leap Day, with comments ranging from appreciative to confused. After seeing some of these, I am feeling the pressure to have an amazing day:

Next biggest share of voice is the subject of sales. It would seem that retail is looking to take advantage of anything out of the ordinary as an excuse to draw customers in– a sizeable share of the pie is focused on the various sales, deals, coupons, and special events that businesses across the country are hosting. Zappos, Subway, Chilis, Dennys, Disneyland, and more are running specials today only.

Finally, there is the always mystifying subject of those poor /lucky souls that are born on February 29. Many people are grappling with the realities of this today:

Some really don’t get the basic math:

Discussion about the day has been rising steadily since yesterday, hitting a spike at 7 am western time as the world woke up to a day that only rarely exists:

[Volume of Leap Day discussion, 2/28 to 2:00 western, 2/29]

So is this a this-year-only phenomenon that everyone is talking about Leap Day? Or have we just forgotten about it since the last one, four years ago? Only Leap Day William can tell.


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