29th February: Leap Day

All of you have probably realised that this year there has been a 29th of February. Do you know the name for this year? In English it is called Leap Year and the 29th itself is called Leap Day.

But if leap means jump, why is it called “Leap Year”? According to Wikipedia:

The name “leap year” probably comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, the day of the week in the 12 months following the leap day (from March 1 through February 28 of the following year) will advance two days due to the extra day (thus “leaping over” one of the days in the week). For example, Christmas fell on Tuesday in 2001, Wednesday in 2002, and Thursday in 2003 but then “leapt” over Friday to fall on a Saturday in 2004.

The same type of problem happens in the relationship between the day and the number of seconds in the day: If you divide the larger measure of time by the smaller, you do not get a whole number. Instead, the result is an unending decimal. There is no way to perfectly fit a whole number of seconds into a day, nor is there a way to perfectly fit a whole number of days/months into a year. As leap years are used to correct calendar drift, the resulting drift in measuring the diurnal cycle is corrected by the use of leap seconds.

So now you know! Hope you had a wonderful Leap Day! 🙂



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