What is Leap Day and why do we have one? As most everyone knows, a year is measured by the time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun, which is 365 days. A solar year is the length of time it takes the earth to make one complete revolution around the sun, which is actually equal to 365.24219 days. This means that our calendar is off by about a quarter of a day per year or roughly 6 hours. That equates to a loss of about 24 hours every four years.
In 45 B.C., Julius Caesar announced a decree that began the practice of adding one extra day every four years, making up for the loss of the 24 hours that had accumulated during the four previous years. Thus, creating the Julian calendar. Well, that sort of made up the difference. In actuality, it is even more complicated than that!
By 1582 A.D. that slight discrepancy in the Julian calendar added up to 10 days. So Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar, coined the term “leap year” and established February 29 as the official date to add to a leap year. He also introduced a rule to take into account the discrepancy in the Julian calendar.
Now, a leap year occurs in every year that is divisible by four, but only in century years that are evenly divided by 400. Therefore, 800, 1200 and 2000 were leap years, but 1700 and 1900 were not, because even though they are divisible by four, they were not divisible by 400.
Well, now that we have that all sorted out or have you totally confused, let’s take a look back on a few events that has taken place on February 29th in previous years.
1960 – Hugh Hefner opens the original Playboy Club in Chicago.
1968 – The Beatles’ eighth album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, wins a Grammy. The album was released on June 1, 1967.
1972 – At the age of 39 while playing for the Atlanta Braves, Hank Aaron becomes first baseball player to sign a contract with a salary of $200,000 a year. Hank was born on born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama with the given name of Henry Louis Aaron. His two nicknames were “Hammer” and “Hammerin Hank.” He is currently 82 years old.
2004 – At the 76th Academy Awards, with host Billy Crystal, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ruled the day sweeping all 11 categories in which it was nominated. Not only that, it tied Titanic and Ben Hur for the most Oscar wins. The biggest prize of all was being named Best Picture.
2012 – My daughter gave birth to our youngest Grandson, Corbin. Yes, he is our very special Leap Day baby! He is my daughter’s third child (first and only son) and our fourth Grandchild.