Monday, February 29, 2016

Holiday Musings

Leap day comes around once every 4 years.  But how many of you really understand why we get one extra day? Sure maybe we learned about it in school but that was awhile ago.

I won't lie to you, I had no idea why we get an extra day once every 4 years.  Except to give us another day in February and the tradition of women asking men to marry them.

I decided to do some research on why we have a leap day once every 4 years.  What I found is pretty interesting.  Come learn with me.

So whats the point to the leap year? Well it all comes down to the fact that the Earth's rotations (or its days) are not equal to or connected  in any way to the time it takes to get around the sun.  The solar year is approx. 365.2422 days.

Now that's a hard number to turn into calendar dates.

There have been many attempts to make nature fit with us.  The Sumerians, some 5000 years ago divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each.  But their 360 day year was almost a week shorter than the journey around the sun.

Then there's the Egyptians who just added 5 days of partying at the end of the year (first version of the New Years celebration?).

In Julius Caesar's time the calendar was off by about 3 months.  How did he solve this problem?  By giving everyone a 445 day long Year of Confusion (sweet a really long year, hope they got paid extra).  Then he mandated a 365.25 year with a leap day every 4th year.  And still this is not the plan we follow.

Now if a leap year is divisible by 100 its skipped unless its also divisible by 400.  Dropping 3 leap days every 400 years keeps the calendar on time with the Earth.

All my information comes from this site: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160226-leap-year-science-time-world-cultures-february/

Now you know why we have leap days (almost) every 4 years.  Hope you made good use of this "extra" day.  What did you do with your leap day?  Leave a comment below in the comments.