Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (a tropical year) – to circle once around the Sun.
However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn't add a day on February 29 nearly every 4 years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days!
Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in the Roman empire over 2000 years ago, but the Julian calendar had only one rule: any year evenly divisible by 4 would be a leap year. This lead to way too many leap years, but didn't get corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian calendar more than 1500 years later.
In the Gregorian calendar 3 criteria must be met to be a leap year:
- The year is evenly divisible by 4;
- If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
- The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are leap years, while 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 and 2500 are NOT leap years.
While teaching my kids why we have leap years we sipped Froggy Floats.
What did you do for leap day?
Information taken from: http://www.timeanddate.com/date/leapyear.html