Leap Day

(C) 2020 JJ Shaun
Leap Day

Today is February 29th, a day that appears on the Gregorian calendar only once every four years. We call it Leap Day, which happens once every Leap Year. The math involved to determine what years contain a leap day gives me a headache, but there’s an algorithm for that.

But, why do we need a Leap Day to begin with?

Well, the answer has to do with the way days are calculated. Humans live to a 24-hour clock and a 365-day calendar. The problem is that days aren’t 24 hours long, and years aren’t 365 days. Astronomically speaking, a day is really 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds, and a year is 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds. But time, being the man-made construct it is, is adjusted every four years, with certain exceptions.

Some people are born on February 29th. These “leaplings” only celebrate a “birthday” once every four years. In these cases, where a person lives will determine whether February 28th or March 1st is considered their “birthday” in non-leap years.

Leap year birthdays have been used as plot devices in literature. The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan is a notable example.

So, enjoy the extra day this year. I hope you have something fun planned.

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