July 14, 2024

Lenape Tech Times

The Monthly News Source from Lenape Technical School

Leap Year 

2 min read

By Lara Palmer 

Every four years, we add an extra day in February. This is common knowledge for most people. Though the question asked is, do people know the true reasoning and history behind this random day that was added into our calendar as the 29th day of February. 

The reason for this day is the Earth’s rotation around the sun and its own axis. Firstly, the Earth spins on its axis once a day, or 24 hours. Secondly, the Earth takes 365.24 days to rotate around the Sun, giving the world their year. To make up for the quarter of a day each year, an extra day was added every four years to make up that other day.  

However, the history explaining all of this is quite interesting. In 45 BC, Julius Ceasar’s advisors noticed the years were not aligning with the seasons. Due to this development, Ceasar declared they would be an extra day every four years. Though, this calendar, the Julian Calendar, did not take into account the drift of days because of the quarter day not being exactly 0.25 but 0.24 instead. It wasn’t noticed for centuries until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII entered the picture. 

Now, Pope Gregory XIII had noticed that the seasons and time of year had unaligned by 10 whole days. To handle this, they dropped 10 days from their current year in October to catch up. The pope’s astronomers worked out that the leap year every four years would still occur, but also added an addition that the leap year would also happen at the end of each century divisible by 400. 

From that day on the Gregorian Calendar, the one the United States currently uses, worked well. By 1752, countries such as Britain and its colonies adopted the new calendar and actually dropped 11 days to sync with the current one.  

Students throughout the school were asked if they knew the reason for Leap Year almost everyone said they knew about the cycle every four years, but not about the history behind the year itself. Leap Year, happening every four years and being forgotten about often, is still a fascinating topic. 

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