Fun Facts About Leap Year
Feb 24, 2016
2016 is the first Leap Year since, well, four years ago. But do you know why we have a Leap Year? And why February? And why it lines up with the American Presidential election cycle? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.
Why do we have a Leap Year?
Leap Years are one of those weird little oddities that has its roots in ancient history and the small discrepancies between the calendar year and the solar year. Because the solar year is slightly longer than the calendar year, there is a little bit of the solar year that is “left over” at the end of every year. That’s why, every four years, we add an extra day on February 29 - known as Leap Day - to get us back on track with the solar year.
Why do we call it a Leap Year?
Leap years are also known as intercalary years or bissextile years, but they’re commonly called leap years - because we take a leap forward with a whole extra day. By contrast, non-leap years are known as common years.
Why does Leap Day fall in February?
February is the natural choice for Leap Day, since it has the fewest days of any month. The reason for its abbreviated status is because Caesar Augustus - the namesake of the month of August - was unhappy that his month originally had fewer days than July - the month named for his predecessor, Julius Caesar. February got the short end of the stick when Augustus decided to extend his own month to match July; consequently the shortest month - even in a Leap Year - is February.
What makes Leap Year so special?
Other than its inherent rarity compared to a common year, leap years also happen to align with many major recurring events - such as the US Presidential Election. There’s no known reason for this alignment, so it’s most likely coincidence - but that extra day of campaigning is probably appreciated by the Presidential hopefuls!
Does Leap Year happen every four years?
Yes! Except when it doesn’t. At the end of every century, a year must be divisible by 400 in order to qualify for that extra day. So for example, the year 2000 is a leap year - but the year 1900 was not. The reason for this, again, is because the solar year is not exactly aligned with the calendar year - even with Leap Years to adjust. But don’t worry - you won’t have to worry about that again until the year 2100.
Who knew there was so much to learn about a single day that only comes around every four years? And we barely scratched the surface! Regardless, we think having a whole extra day in a year is cause for celebration. Since the “leap frog” has become the symbol for Leap Year, celebrate your Leap Day with some awesome frog-themed products.