What’s With Leap Day?

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Halle Purles, Staff Writer

February 29 is observed world-wide as a day that only occurs nearly every four years. But why is it even a thing?
Well, a leap day is added to the calendar every four years so that the calendar synchronizes better with the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The Earth orbits the sun in 365.25 days which means every four years there has to be an extra day to keep in synch. If there weren’t these days, eventually the seasons would be at different times of the year. According to TimeandDate.com, “Without an extra, or intercalary, day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, a calendar without leap years would be off by approximately 24 days in relation to fixed seasonal days such as the vernal equinox or the winter solstice.”

So how long have leap days been a part of our calendar? Leap days were first used in the Julian Calendar which was invented by, of course, Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Leap day is in February because in the Julian Calendar, February was the last month of the year.

Eventually, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar was made as a correction for the Julian calendar so that the year lined up with the equinoxes better.

There are many legends and traditions surrounding Leap day including the tradition in Ireland, that advises women to propose only on Leap day for good luck. If the suitor refuses the woman’s proposal he is expected to buy her something nice or pay a fine.