Tomorrow is February 29th, Leap “Day”. I have a friend (and her twin) who have a birthday tomorrow. They are turning 7 (28). I give her a hard time that her daughter will hit 8 before she does, and you can bet I will tell her daughter that as well! (Love you hun!! MUAH!)
But, I have never understood WHY we have a leap year. I know it is every 4 years, and that it adds a date to the year…but why? So, Google and I became buddies and I dug in. There are some strange theories out there, but lets go with some known things shall we?
- Every year that is divisible by 4 is a leap year: 2008/4 = 502 (2007/4 =501.75).
- A year that is equally divided by 100 is not a leap year unless it can also be equally divided by 400 i.e. 2000 was a leap year.
- The earth rotates around the sun, as we all learned as kids. The vernal equinoxes is when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator. The time between two vernal equinoxes is called a tropical year or solar year. A Tropical year is 365.2422 days long. When we use the calendar with 365 days, we lose .2422 days, or about 6 hours a year. If we didn’t have a leap year, after 100 years we would be 24 days ahead.
- There can be a gap between leap years of 8 years. The last time this happened was 1896-1904. It will happen again between 2096-2104.
- Leap day is also called St. Oswald’s Day. He was a 10th century archbishop of York who passed on February 29, 992.
- Many famous people have Leap Year Birthdays: Pope Paul III (1549), Antonio Sabato Jr (actor), Lyndon Byers (hockey player), Ja Rule (rapper and actor) and Chris Conley (musician).
- Important Events that happened on Leap Day: The Salem Witch trials began, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, the first Walk/Don’t Walk signs were installed in 1952
- There are only 187,000 people in the USA that have Leap Year birthdays. Less than 3 million world wide.
So there you have it, some confusing and fun facts about Leap Year!