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Shop 4 Calendars   >   Articles   >   Leap Years

   

Leap Years


Most months have 30 or 31 days, with the exception being February. February has 28 days in most years, but 29 days in leap years.

In the modern Gregorian calendar used today, a year is a leap year if it is evenly divisible by 4, but not evenly divisible by 100, except when it is divisible by 400. So, for example, 1896 was a leap year (divisible by 4), 1900 was not a leap year (divisible by 100), and 2000 was a leap year (divisible by 400).

Why is this?

The reason is actually quite simple:
  • A day is the period of time that the Earth takes to revolve on its axis.

  • A temporal or solar year is the period of time that the Earth takes to complete one orbit around the sun.

  • The temporal or solar year is not an exact number of days. It is just over 365 days.
So, to make the calendar year try to match the solar year, the Gregorian calendar has 365 days in most years, but 366 in leap years.

The errors with the Gregorian calendar are quite small, but even so it will gain 1 day (as compared to the temporal or solar year) every 3,226 years - so eventually we will have to have an extra leap day if we want the calendar year to remained synchronized with the calendar year!

There are many traditions associated with leap years and the leap day (February 29th), many associated with marriage or marriage proposals:
  • In Britain and Ireland, women are only traditionally supposed to be able propose marriage in leap years.

  • In Finland, men who refuse a woman's marriage proposal on a leap day are traditionally supposed to buy her fabric for making a skirt.

  • In France, a satirical newspaper, La Bougie du Sapeur, is only published on leap days.

  • In Greece, marriage in a leap year is traditionally considered unlucky.

  • In the United States, gender roles are often reversed on the leap day (including women proposing to men), and the leap day is sometimes known as "Sadie Hawkins Day".



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