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article imageWhy do we have Leap Years? Millions celebrate birthdays worldwide

By Andrew Moran     Feb 29, 2012 in Lifestyle
Rome - With only a few million celebrating Leap Day birthdays, the question that must be asked is: what exactly is a leap year and why do we have them? It isn't just human phenomena, but rather for scientific purposes.
This year’s Leap Day has finally arrived (or maybe gone depending where you are). Fewer than five million are celebrating this day that only comes every four years – and also share the pleasure of being technically younger than everyone else.
If you didn’t pay attention in elementary school, you may be wondering what a Leap Year is exactly. Why do we have them? What is the purpose of a Leap Year? Here are some interesting facts about why we have imposed a Leap Year every four years.
Most individuals are unaware that it takes approximately 365.2422 days for the Earth to orbit around the sun. By having an additional day in intercalary or bissextile year this keeps the calendar year harmonized with the astronomical/seasonal year.
Before 45 BC, humans maintained a 355-day calendar. When Julius Caesar rose to the ranks of Roman emperor, an extra 22-day month was added every two years, but it did not solve the issue and added more problems, such as abnormal harvest seasons.
Sosigenes, an astronomer for Caesar, was ordered to come up with a logical solution. He came up with the idea of a year consisting of 365 days and then an extra day for every four years to catch up with the hours. This is how leap year came to fruition.
Modern bronze statue of Julius Caesar  Rimini  Italy.
Modern bronze statue of Julius Caesar, Rimini, Italy.
Julio cesar (julvid300)
Is that the end of the story? Not necessarily.
The common misconception is that a leap year is every four years. However, a year that is divisible by 100, but not by 400, is not a leap year. The year 2000, for example, was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.
Leap Day organization
The Leap Day Year prompted the foundation of an organization called the Honor Society of Leap Day Babies. It is unclear as to how many Leap Day Babies belong to the group, but its main purpose is to advocate awareness of the day.
For example, the institute urges Leap Year to be added to a calendar and for it also to be capitalized like other holidays, such as Groundhog Day and New Year’s Day. Furthermore, it wants businesses, websites and other establishments to accept Feb. 29 as a valid birthday.
On its website,, hundreds of people have published numerous issues they have suffered from, such as discrepancies related to licenses and births and even being made fun of by their peers.
“My mother tried to have the doctor change the time so I would not have a leap year birthday,” wrote Larry Hollingsworth.
“I went to get my driver’s license and of course it said Feb 29th. So since there was no Feb 29th last year they weren't going to renew, so they switched it to Feb 28th so they could renew my license. How dumb is that?” wrote Wayne Robertson.
“In the second grade I was scolded by my teacher in front of the class for lying to her about my birthday. A classmate finally convinced her that I was telling the truth when I said February 29,” wrote Joan Sutton.
Do you have odd stories related to your Leap Year birthday? Let us know and we could publish your experiences in this story.
More about Leap year, leap day, leap year birthdays, Earth, Sun
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