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Monday, February 29, 2016

Cool Facts About Leap Year

Today is one of the rare chance to seal down "29 February, 2016" on my blog. Hence, I would be sharing some cool facts about Leap Year.

2016 is a leap year. That means we get a bonus day to catch up on and get our act together... or maybe not.

So Why Do We Have Leap Year?

Every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar, making the length of the year 366 days, instead of the normal 365.

The calendar is supposed to match the solar year, in other words, the length of time it takes for Earth to revolve around the Sun once.

However, things aren't quite that simple. The Earth actually takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to make one complete revolution around the sun (about 365 1/4 days).

Those extra 6 hours gradually add up so that after four years the calendar is out of step by about one day. Adding a day every four years keeps the calendar in sync to the solar year again. This extra day is called a Leap Day.

Why 29 February?

Why add a day to February? Why not 31 April or 31 June or any other month with 30 days?

You would say, "That's easy. Because February has the least number of days!"

But have you wondered why February has the least number of days?

The early Roman calendar, way before Julius Caesar’s time, began the year with March. It had only ten months, each lasting about 30 days, ending with December.

It is thought that two extra months, January and February, were added sometime around 715-673 BCE. This would have made February the end of the year, which might explain why a leap day was added to that month.

Later it was decided to start the year with January, as that month contained a festival dedicated to Janus, the god of gates (and later, all beginnings).

The picture below would help explain things better!

[Image Source]

But... Not every 4th year is a Leap Year

The Julian calendar's formula to calculate leap years produced a leap year every four years. However, the solar year isn’t exactly 365 days. Adding a leap day every four years means that the calendar is still out of step by 11 minutes and 14 seconds each year.

Eventually the Julian calendar was 24 days out of sync with the fixed dates for astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices and important religious holidays, like Easter.

Over the course of 400 years this would add up to three extra days. In order to solve this problem, it was decided to leave out the leap year three times every 400 years.

The introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for the realignment with events like the Vernal equinox and Winter solstice.

So, the new rule was, a century year (1600, 1700, 1800, etc.) would only be a leap year if it was evenly divisible by 400. This means that the year 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 will not be.

The year must follow these 3 rules to be a Leap Year:

  1. The year could be evenly divided by 4
  2. The year is NOT evenly divided by 100 UNLESS
  3. The year is also evenly divided by 400

[Image Source]

This is also why the year 1900 was NOT a Leap Year but the year 2000 WAS a Leap Year.

The Gregorian calendar is today's internationally accepted civil calendar and is also known as the Western or Christian calendar.

Born on a Leap Day?

A person born on Leap Day is known as a "leapling". Some sites mentioned "leaper" too but I wouldn't use that as it reminds me of "leper" and I wouldn't want to call anyone that.

According to astrologers, leaplings were born under the sign of Pisces on February 29. Owing to the unique day on which they arrived into the world, they are more apt to go their own way and exhibit an independent and optimistic spirit.

While they have to wait every four years to "officially" observe their birthdays, leap year babies typically choose either 28 February or 1 March to celebrate in years that aren't leap years.

Leap Year and Leap Day

Let's learn how to use Leap Year and Leap Day correctly.

Someone born on February 29 was born on Leap Day, or Leap Year Day. They were NOT born on Leap Year. Leap Year is the year we are in like 2012 or 2016.

Anyone can be born IN a Leap Year. Leap Year lasts all year.

But Leap Day Babies were born ON Leap Day.

THAT is what is rare. In fact, the odds are 1 in 1461!

You don't have to be born on February 29 to enjoy Leap Day.

It's everyone's extra day!

Did you do anything special to commemorate Leap Day?

Afternote: I'm looking at the someecards above and thinking it should be "Leap Day" instead of "Leap Year.


  1. This is really interesting as I didn't know many of these facts about Leap Year!! Thanks for sharing them, enjoyed it. I hope you have a wonderful new week :) x

    1. Kizzy,
      I'm glad you enjoyed reading these facts. I always learn new things from the Internet and I love it.

  2. Haha... Jolene, I loved this... I often think about leaplings and I feel for them, most children want to celebrate on their actual birth dates... however; they would be pretty special for actually being born on February 29th... :)

    I hope you are doing well and that you are feeling more yourself... I am in somewhat laid back mood myself and would rather just come home, veg out and do nothing... I am trying to change it, although it isn't easy...xox

    1. Launna,
      I think as kids, they would feel sad for not being able to celebrate their birthday on the actual date as they might not understand why they can't do so. However, I do think that when they grow older, they would most likely feel very special and proud of this fact.

  3. I can be such a geek so I love learning fun facts like this. It was interesting to find out why February has the fewest days. Personally I think Leap Day should be a national holiday haha ;p

    1. Rowena,
      I think Leap Day should be a national holiday too! Then we would all feel special having one extra day to do whatever we want.

  4. I prefer being a liebling rather than a leapling. :)

    1. Rick,
      I had to google that and yes, I would rather much be a liebling too!

  5. I think Leap Day is a pretty cool thing! It's just something that makes February seem a little extra fun!

  6. Nice, sealing in that leap year date on your blog so you can look back in four years ;)
    Pretty cool to learn about the history of the calendar and this date! I don't really think Leap Day gets celebrated, but having a Leap day birthday would be quite fun :3 (But seriously, I need to find someone with a Leap day birthday!)

    1. Vanessa,
      I like it that once you come here, you leave so much to read. I personally think Leap Day should be declared a national holiday. Then we would all feel special having one extra day to do whatever we want.

  7. That last meme though. :D
    Ah, now that's a closer look at Leap Year.

  8. What a fun post! I did know most of these facts as I'm really into history but still it is nice to be reminded (and learn something new, for example this is the first time I heard that 'leapling' expression).

    1. Ivana,
      I always learn new things from the Internet and I love it. Glad that even as you know these facts, you still have got something new to learn. I also just knew of the expression too!

  9. I knew some of this, like I think everyone does, but I had no idea that there was quite so much science to it all.

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