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Why Do We Have Leap Years?

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There are 366 days in 2012, which means it’s a Leap Year – not a Common Year and February has 29 days instead of 28!

Leap years occur every 4 years to keep the Earth’s calendar aligned with the number of revolutions it takes around the sun. In actuality, it takes 365.242 days to circle the sun one time. Because it’s a bit more than 365 – we add a day every four years.

If we didn’t, every year we’d lose almost six hours off of our calendar. Julius Caesar introduced Leap Year over 2000 years ago on the Roman calendar. In 1582, the Roman calendar was replaced with the Gregorian calendar, which realigned the days with the equinox and 11 dates were dropped. This is the Western calendar used today.

Consider February 29th a day to leap into discovering the different types of calendars, like the Mayan calendar, which moves in cycles ending on Winter Solstice, or the Chinese calendar, which is lunisolar – based on the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases.

Anyway you look at it, today is a bonus day, so enjoy the extra 24 hours!

Content provided by Oakland University

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