A leap year poem to remember it by
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one
Save February, she alone
Hath eight days and a score
Til leap year gives her one day more.
2012 is a leap year, with 366 days instead of the usual 365 days. 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.
’Leap Day’ is February 29, which is an extra (intercalary) day added during a Leap Year, making the year 366 days long – and not 365 days, like a common (normal) year. Nearly every 4 years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian Calendar.
Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in the Roman empire over 2000 years ago, but the Julian calendar had only one rule: any year evenly divisible by 4 would be a leap year. This lead to way too many leap years, but didn't get corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar more than 1500 years later.
Ever since Leap Years were first introduced over 2000 years ago with the transition from the Roman Calendar to the Julian Calendar in 45 BCE (Before Common Era), Leap Day has been associated with age-old Leap Day traditions and folklore.
How do we calculate Leap Years?
In the Gregorian calendar 3 criteria must be met to be a leap year:
- The year is evenly divisible by 4;
- If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
- The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are leap years, while 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 and 2500 are NOT leap years. The year 2000 was somewhat special as it was the first instance when the third criterion was used in most parts of the world since the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar.
Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (a tropical year) – to circle once around the Sun.
However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn't add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days.
Leap Years 2008 – 2032
February 29 – day of the week
Leap Year in other calendars
- Chinese Leap Year
- Jewish Leap Year
- Leap Year in Iran
- Leap Year in Islam
- Bahá'í Leap Year
- Hindu Leap Year
- Ethiopian Leap Year