colorful words saying leap year

Leap Year

The new year is up and running, January has come and gone, and here we are in February. However, 2020 is a little different; it’s a Leap Year with a leap day.

Have you ever wondered – Why is another day tacked on to February every four years? Here’s what I found.

What is Leap Year & Why Do We Have It?

Leap year happens every four years and leap days are always February 29. The calendar we all know and use is called the Gregorian calendar. In leap years, we add an extra day (February 29) to the Gregorian calendar to synchronize it with solar years.

A solar year is the time it takes the earth to complete its orbit around the sun (365.24219 days, to be exact). This is 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds longer than the time allotted in a Gregorian calendar.

Through a simple (actually, it’s likely a very complex) mathematical equation, it’s been determined that adding one extra day, a leap day, every four years, realigns the two calendars again. Without leap years, the discrepancy in time between the solar calendar and the Gregorian calendar would cause events scheduled in a Gregorian calendar to misalign with the seasons of the solar calendar (e.g. Christmas would eventually become a summer holiday!)

Fun Facts

Can’t remember if it’s a leap year or when the next one will be?

It takes a little math to figure it out. If the last two digits of the year are divisible by 4 (2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 etc.), then it’s a leap year. The exception to the rule is century years. These years must be divisible by 400. For example, century year 2000 is a leap year; century year 2100 is not.

What are the odds that someone will be born on a leap day?

The simple estimate is one in every 1,461 days. You can find more detail on the odds of being born on a leap day.

What do we do on Leap Day or during Leap Years?

Not much really, but Irish tradition encourages women to propose on leap days. Find details on that and more here.

You can start your own tradition by turning on the TV to watch this movie.

For more fun, find 29 things that happened on leap day.

Most importantly, start planning for the upcoming holidays because leap year 2020 means:

  • Fourth of July is on a Saturday
  • Halloween is on a Saturday
  • Christmas is on a Friday
  • New Year’s Eve begins a 3-day weekend

About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach