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Top 10 Facts About Leap Years!

We have a leap year every four years, but what are they? Check out these facts...

Ever wonder why we get an extra day every four years? It’s all because of leap years! We’re discovering the coolest facts about these special years that make our calendars super interesting. From fun history to mind-blowing quirks, get ready to leap into a world of fascinating facts.

1. Leap years exist to balance our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

While a year is generally considered 365 days, it actually takes Earth about 365.2422 days to complete its journey around the Sun.

Leap years, with their extra day, help synchronise our calendar with this astronomical reality, ensuring our seasons stay in the right place.

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2. Julius Caesar introduced the leap year!

The concept of the leap year, which involves adding an extra day to the calendar approximately every four years, can be traced back to the reforms of the Roman calendar initiated by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE.

Caesar, seeking to align the Roman calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, introduced the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar included a leap year system, where an additional day was added every four years to compensate for the slightly longer time it takes for the Earth to complete its orbit.

While the specifics of leap year calculations have been refined over time, Julius Caesar played a pivotal role in introducing the fundamental concept of leap years to address calendar discrepancies.

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3. People born on 29th February are called “leaplings” or “leap year babies”.

Leaplings celebrate their birthdays only when there’s a leap year, making their birthday parties extra special and rare.

They often change it to the day before or day after though so all is not lost!

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4. Leap year-like systems have ancient origins.

Did you know that leap year-like systems aren’t a new thing? Ancient civilisations were way ahead of the calendar game.

Back in the day, both the Egyptians and the Romans tried to figure out this whole time thing, just like we do now.

They had their own versions of what we’d call leap years today, a bit like adding bonus days to their calendars. These ancient calendars weren’t as precise as ours, but they were onto something good.

Learn more about the Ancient Egyptians!

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5. The leap day is traditionally the day women propose to men!

On leap day, it’s a tradition for women to pop the big question and propose to men!

Usually, it’s the other way around but on this special day, girls take the lead (traditionally!).

The legend goes back to the 5th century when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for a proposal. St. Patrick supposedly agreed, and so the tradition was born.

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6. A leap year is sometimes skipped.

When we add up the extra time it takes for the Earth to complete its orbit over four calendar years, it’s not exactly 24 hours. It’s 23.262222 hours!

This seemingly small difference has a cumulative effect. By adding a leap day every four years, we’re actually making our calendar longer by over 44 minutes.

If left unchecked, these additional 44+ minutes could cause the seasons to drift over time. That’s why not every four years gets a leap year; there’s a rule in place.

If a year is divisible by 100 but not by 400, we skip the leap year. For example, the year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not.

The next time we’ll skip a leap year is in 2100. It’s all a balancing act to keep our calendar in sync with the Earth’s journey around the Sun.

7. Not all countries adopted the leap year system simultaneously.

A long time ago in Rome, Julius Caesar added something special called leap years to our calendar to keep things in sync. As the Roman Empire spread, the idea of leap years travelled with it.

Fast forward to the 16th century, Pope Gregory XIII introduced an even more precise calendar, and countries like Italy, Spain, and Portugal were among the first to embrace it.

They officially joined the leap year party, making sure our days and holidays stayed perfectly in tune.

They started in Rome and spread around the world to keep our calendars just right!

Discover what the Romans did in London.

8. The Earth’s rotation isn’t a perfect 365 days.

The Earth’s rotation around the Sun isn’t an exact match with our calendar year.

Leap years account for this extra time, ensuring that our calendars stay synchronised with the ever-so-slightly wobbly spin of our planet.

Read Top 10 Facts About Earth!

9. Leap seconds exist too!

We’re used to the idea of leap years, right?

Well, just like we add an extra day in a leap year to keep our calendars in sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun, scientists also throw in something called a leap second.

This leap second is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to make sure our super accurate clocks and the Earth’s rotation stay in harmony.

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10. There’s lots of superstitions around leap years.

It’s not just about adding an extra day to the calendar every four years.

Some people believe that leap years bring a bit of extra magic, and with that, a bunch of interesting beliefs have sprung up.

For example, there’s a superstition that getting married during a leap year is considered unlucky.

Others think leap years might bring added challenges.

It’s a mystery!

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Top 10 Facts

From the Tudors to rocks to fish, we have all the best facts right here!

More From Top 10 Facts