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Monday, December 21, 2015

Why there is leap year

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Leap year comes every four years

Learn why

subscribe to the  Activity Director e-magazine to learn about great leap year activities in the February 2016 edition



It was the ancient Egyptians who first figured out that the solar year and the man-made calendar year didn't always match up.
That's because it actually takes the Earth a little longer than a year to travel around the Sun — 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact.
Therefore, as the hours accumulated over the centures, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, and over time the practice became more or less official.
The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four - 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.
Another stipulation ruled that no year divisible by 100 would have a leap year, except if it was divisible by 400. Thus, 1900 was not a leap year ... but 2000 was! Go figure.
Thankfully, all this intricate plotting will continue to keep us in tune with the seasons over the next several thousand years.
While leap day helped official timekeepers, it also resulted in social customs turned upside down when February 29 became a "no man's land" without legal jurisdiction.





 
As the story goes, the tradition of women romantically pursuing men in leap years began in 5th century Ireland, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about the fair sex having to wait for men to propose. Patrick finally relented and set February 29 aside as the day set aside allowing women the right to ask for a man's hand in marriage.

The tradition continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that on February 29 a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she fancied. Menfolk who refused were faced with a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, or a pair of gloves given to the rejected lady fair.
A similar modern American tradition, Sadie Hawkins Day, honors "the homeliest gal in the hills" created by Al Capp in the cartoon strip Li'l Abner. In the famous story line, Sadie and every other woman in town were allowed on that day to pursue and catch the most eligible bachelors in Dogpatch. Although the comic strip placed Sadie Hawkins Day in November, today it has become almost synonymous with February 29.

Why are leap years needed?

Leap years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the earth's revolutions around the sun.
The next leap year will occur in 2016

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