Why We Have Leap Years

We all know why we have leap years

We all know why we have leap years. The exact amount of time the Earth takes to complete one revolution is 365.24 days. Therefore, in order to stay synchronized with the cosmic clock, a leap day is added in the month of February, every four years. Now let’s look at some of the facts about leap years, that might be unknown to you:

Chances of being a leapling

A leapling is a person who is born on the leap day, that is, the 29th of February. Mathematically, the odds of being a leapling is 1 in 1,461, which is possibly higher than you can imagine. Presently, there are around 4-5 million leaplings in the whole world. Some of the famous leaplings from the past are the great composer Rossini and English poet John Byron. However, the Premier of Tasmania at the time of the Victorian era, James Milne Wilson got a Leap double, being born on 29th February 1812 and dying on 29th February 1880. He total age, taking into account only the leap days was 17.

  1. Leap Years should be divisible by 400

Even though leap days happen every four years, it’s not completely true. Since the cosmic clock is almost too accurate, there is a leap year every four years, but only if that year is divisible by both 100 and 400. Therefore, 2016 was a leap year because it was divisible by 4, 100 and 40o; but 1900 was not a leap year because it cannot be divided by 400. But we don’t need to bother about this confusion, at least until 2100 because that will be the next “missed” leap year.

  1. Romans leaped months instead of days

If you think that one leap day disturbs time, you’ll realize that we have it much better than before the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar. During the days of Julius Caesar, there were 355 days in a calendar, which led to an extra 22 days and eventually a leap month every two years. Caesar made it way simpler by bringing in the 365-day calendar that is used today. And that’s how the month of July was named after him. Also, legend has it that Caesar’s successor, Augustus “stole” a day from February in order to lengthen the month named after him- August, and that is why the month of February is a short one. However, there is no historical fact to support this theory.

  1. Women’s proposals on lead days

There is a leap day tradition going on for years, in which women can propose to men. The credit for this goes to St. Brigit of Kildare. Apparently, he registered a complaint to St. Patrick, saying that women had to keep a lot of patience and wait too long for the men to propose. After this, St. Patrick declared that women could propose to men on leap days. Moreover, there’s another story that “Queen Margaret of Scotland” ordered in 1288 that if a man refused a proposal, he would have to pay a fine. However, all this is now believed to be a historical hoax.

  1. Sweden had a February 30th once

In 1712, Sweden had a 30-day of February. The decision to adopt the Gregorian Calendar was made by the country in 1700. So there were some extra days that needed to be covered to synchronize completely. In order to do that, it was decided to skip only the leap days. But since the Great Northern War started in 1700, and went on for a long time, the Swedes forgot to skip two leap days. So in 1712, they thought it would be easier to follow the Julian Calendar again and they added one more leap day that year. The transition into the Gregorian system occurred in 1753, and after that, the 30th of February became obsolete.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *