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The Mystery of Leap Year Explained: Unraveling the Extra Day

Leap Year hero image

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If you have ever asked yourself the question, “Why do we have Leap Year?” Wonder no longer, Leap Year explained.

February 29th, the day that only comes once every four years. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the same question every time we come across it, “Why do we have Leap Year?” When and how did this phenomenon happen? Well, we did the research so you don’t have to. Here is the Leap Year explained. 

According to the Associated Press, Leap Year occurs to keep our calendar in sync with annual events such as solstices, at equinoxes. It is important to note that a Leap Year is not always every four years, stay with us, when breaking it down to the science, adding a Leap Year to our calendar adds an extra 44 minutes to our calendar, if this was done every four years, the seasons would begin to drift and, with time, we would be experiencing cold weather– and snow in some places– in July!

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So how did Leap Year start? The origin of Leap Year started with ancient civilizations using the lunar and sun cycles to create a calendar. As time passed into the Roman Empire period, Julius Caesar noticed significant seasonal changes. After adding months to the calendar had negative impacts, he decided to rely on a calendar based solely off the sun, adding an extra day to the calendar every four years. 

Julius Caesar’s calendar became the model used for centuries, until Pope Gregory XIII further worked on the calendar, eliminating some days from Caesar’s calendar and slightly tweaking the rules of when Leap Year should occur,  giving us the model we operate with today. 

Pope Gregory XIII, Leap Year story

Portrait of Pope Gregory XIII, Shutterstock

So the next time you are laying out during the warm July season, or coddling yourself in a cozy blanket in December as the snow falls outside, you can thank the scientists and astronomers who figured out the proper formula for Leap Year. Enjoy the extra day in February!

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Sources: 

Craddock, B. (2020, February 27). The Science of Leap Year. Homepage. https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/science-leap-year

Italie, L. (2024, February 25). What would happen without a Leap Day? more than you might think. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/leap-year-history-leap-day-february-calendar-c6936d284843ec2722b2eb215159efed 

 

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