leap year

366 days in an year?

Image Credit: Flickr User Matt Preston,via CC

Macy and Stacy are twins born in the February of 2000. Now, Macy is 4 years old while Stacy is 14! How so?

One is a Leap day baby, and the other is not. Did you know that babies born on leap day are called leaplings?

Each year has 365 days. But every four years the year has 366 days. This year is called a Leap year. This day is added in the month of February. So instead of having 28 days unlike each year, the Leap year February has 29 days. Now you see that Macy was born February 29, 2000 at 11:56 P.M. Stacy was born 10 minutes later on March 1, 2000 at 12:06 A.M.

Why do we have Leap year at all?

The time taken by Earth to revolve once around the Sun is known as a year. We think that Earth takes 365 days to complete one revolution, but actually Earth takes about 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to circle once around the Sun. This is known as the tropical year. How do we accommodate extra 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds each year? We can’t say let us have one fourth of the day at the end of the year ;)

According to the Gregorian calendar, the one most people lookup to refer dates, one full day is added to February every four years.

Why can’t we simply ignore 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds each year?

Suppose we do ignore almost six hours off our calendar every year. After 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days! Which in turn means that approximately every 1500 years we would have dropped an entire year. Now think in millions of years. Calculations would go so wrong that the entire purpose of keeping correct date and time through calendars would be defeated!

How do we decide that which year should be a leap year?

In the Gregorian calendar that we follow, any year must follow 3 criteria be a leap year:

  1. The year should be evenly divisible by 4.
  2. If the year is evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
  3. The year is also evenly divisible by 400. In that case, it’s a leap year.

The years 1800 and 1900 while divided by 4 is not a leap year since it is also divided by 100.

The year 2000 is a rare leap year since it follows all the above criterion. It is divisible by 4. It is divisible by 100 but also divisible by 400! So its a leap year!

Look at this interesting video:

There are many superstitions associated with the leap year. While there is no proof, some people say that you should not travel to far away places in a leap year. Some believe that during leap years mother nature unleashes her fury more than regular years. Even dying hair or changing hair style is not advised. Ha! Now that’s funny!

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