Unlocking the Mystery of February 29th

 · 
March 1, 2024
 · 
2 min read
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Just yesterday, we celebrated Leap Day, an uncommon occurrence once every four calendar years. I’m sure everyone was asking themselves the hard-hitting question: Why do we have a Leap Day? Aren’t all years 365 days? Not exactly. According to NASA, the Earth does not make its full orbit around the sun in exactly 365 days, though it would be convenient. In reality, it takes the Earth approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to orbit the sun. While we always seem to recognize each year as the standard 365 days, we must account for the extra 5 hours and change at some point. If we were to not account for this extra time, it might go unnoticed at first, but over many, many years, the seasons we have come to know would fall out of line, and the world would be much different than it is now. I don’t know about everyone else, but Christmas in shorts and a 4th of July barbecue in a North Face jacket wouldn’t sit right with me.

Who adopted the idea of Leap Day? You would have to travel all the way back to the times of Julius Caesar and the Ancient Romans for this. According to history, the ancient Romans were not too fond of the month of February and its weather, so they decided to give it the least number of days, which we can still see in our calendar today. Julius Caesar aligned this calendar with the pattern of the sun, which was then corrected in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian Calendar that we still use today, adding an extra day to the shortest month, February, once every four years, to make up the difference in the Earth’s orbit of the sun.

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