February 29, 2012

It’s Leap Day!

February Fun Facts

Well, technically it’s Leap Year or rather 2012 is a Leap Year. Yay for Leap Day babies! You finally have an actual birthday. I would seriously hate only having a birthday every four years. That just seems mean.

Anyway, for those of you interested in the history of why we have Leap Years, look no further. For those of you who don’t give a shit, turn around and go back to the main page there’s nothing here for you.

For 29 half-baked ideas in honor of Leap Day go here.

History of Leap Year

The Romans originally had a 355-day calendar. So, to keep up with the seasons, an extra 22 or 23-day month was inserted every second year. For reasons unknown, the extra month was only observed now and then. By Julius Caesar’s time, the seasons no longer occurred at the same calendar periods as history had shown.

To correct this, Caesar eliminated the extra month and added one or two extra days to the end of various months, his month included, which was Quintilis, later renamed Julius we know it as July. This extended the calendar to 365 days. Also intended was an extra calendar day every fourth year following the 28th day of Februarius.

However, after Caesar’s death in 44 B.C., the calendars were written with an extra day every three years instead of every 4 until corrected in 8 A.D. So again, the calendar drifted away from the seasons. By 1582, Pope Gregory XIII recognized that Easter would eventually become closer and closer to Christmas.

The calendar was reformed so that a leap day would occur in any year that is divisible by four but not divisible by 100 except when the year is divisible by 400.

Thus 1600 and 2000, although century marks, have a Leap Day. The calendar we use today, known as the Gregorian calendar, makes our year 365.2425 days only off from our solar year by .00031, which amounts to only one day’s error after 4,000 years.

For more information on Leap Day go here.

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