Facts About Leap Years


 

So February 29th, huh? That was a fun day. On the 28th, everyone was like “Woah, tomorrow’s gonna be soooo crazy!” but then they realised it felt a lot like March 1st… Oh well, there are some cool things about leap years though. Allow me to list them here in a conveniently hilarious list:

 

5. Leap Years DON’T Happen Every Four Years

Leap years occur because the length of our solar year is an inconvenient 365.25 days long, and even that number is an approximation. So some smart guy named Gregory decided to invent a calendar which inserted an extra day every four years. Seems a pretty simple solution but alas, that still didn’t quite add up, so years that are divisible by 100 are not leap years, meaning whilst 1896 and 1904 were leap years, 1900 was not. But alas, that still didn’t add up, so years that are divisible by 400 are leap years, meaning 2000 was indeed a leap year. But alas, that STILL didn’t- I’m kidding. It’s fine now.

 

4. Leap Seconds Are Also A Thing

Because we as humans are apparently shit at timekeeping, it is also necessary to throw in leap seconds as and when we feel like it. In theory, they occur every 18 months, but you know, sometimes we don’t get one for seven years at a time :-(

 

We need these cheeky little leap seconds to ensure that our days and nights remain as light and dark as we have come to expect. The next one is scheduled for midnight of June 30th this year. Make sure to stay up late and check out an official clock. They look funny, like this:

 

"HAHAHA! LOOK! A SIX!"

 

3. Women Can Propose On Leap Years

In Britain, it is tradition that women may only propose on leap years. I’m sure you all know this, because it was the incredibly weak premise of that film that time. What is slightly more exciting is the fine that a man must pay to the lady if he declines. It is customary to repay her with a pair of gloves, a rose, £1, or a kiss. It seems someone decided that mere pocket change is adequate compensation for the poor lady who has just had her dignity irrevocably sullied. At least there is a small glimmer of hope from the Danes, who instead offer 12 pairs of gloves…

 

"Just what I've always wanted for my multiple hands!"

 

2. ‘Leap Year’ Is A Stupid Name

Yes, you’re right, Nathan! It is! Why are we leaping? What are we leaping? And when are we leaping? If anything, normal years should be called leap years, because at least then we are ‘leaping’ over February 29th. There are other names for a leap year, which make about as much sense, but are slightly more fun to say. They can also be referred to as intercalary (which sounds like a type of blood vessel), or bissextile, which I’m sure is a very much under-subscribed sexual orientation.

 

1. Sometimes, February Has THIRTY Days!

And by sometimes, I mean once. Ever. By some quirk of nature, and thanks in part to the irregular intervals at which the Gregorian calendar was introduced, a quadruple-exception occurred in 1712, resulting in February having 30 days! So for all you leaplings out there (and yes, that is the correct term for those born on the 29th of Feb), quit complaining about only having a birthday only as often as the Olympics. Those born on this fantastic date have one birthday in their entire lives!

 

And so, before you start panicking that you don’t know what time is anymore, fear not. Because our current calendar is accurate to within one day every 8000 years. This is good enough for anyone who cares because, as has been pointed out before, 8000 years ago, we were just figuring out that farming would be a good idea, and 8000 years from now, we will probably be using a calendar with a better date tracking system than Ol’ Gregory’s nonsense.

 


Want more from this author? Try This Letter To Tesco

Or for a related article, how about The Top Five Facts About Platypus

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