Why Do We Have a Leap Year? Why Is It So Important?

Why Do We Have a Leap Year? Why Is It So Important?

Have you ever wondered if someone born on a leap year is technically younger than they are? For example, if someone was born on February 29, 2020, would they be technically only one year old in 2024? Obviously not, but it raises the question of why we need leap years, or why a leap year is so crucial to our calendar years.

Why do we have a leap year?

A leap year is where there is an extra day added to the 365-day count of one year, making it a total of 366 days. Technically, the number of having “365” days in a year is incorrect. In fact, one singular year has 365.25 days; we mostly just round down to 365 to make it easier for ourselves and others. The reason for the extra .25 day is due to our earth’s rotation around the sun, which in reality, is not a perfect 365 days. The Earth’s rotation around the sun, which we count as one year, is 365 days and 6 hours.

What are the consequences of not observing a leap year?

Now for a hypothetical, what if we never backlogged any leap years? As you read above, the earth’s rotation around the sun is 365 days and 6 hours. We can round down to the standard 365 days, but that 6 hours doesn’t disappear. It is still being counted, and those 6 hours would build and build until time and our calendar would be so far out of sync we could celebrate Christmas in July. Our weather, the way we live, and celebrate holidays, would all be so far out of sync and so broken it could take hundreds of years to get back on track if they started to observe the leap years.

The math behind leap years.

When looking at a leap year in a math way is quite simple, let us break it down in terms of quarters & dollars. Four quarters equal one dollar and one quarter is 25 cents or 0.25 of one whole dollar. Think of one quarter as 6 hours and that one dollar as 24 hours. If you get the 4 quarters (remember 6 hours per quarter) it equals that whole one dollar or, in our case, 24 hours.

What happens if you were born on a leap year?

Did you know that you have a one-in-1,461 chance (0.07%) of being born on a leap year? Those are some serious odds against you but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. If you were born on a leap year, which is February 29, you would just celebrate your birthday either the day before or the day after. The next leap year is actually next year (2024) so for the people who do have a leap year birthday, you can actually celebrate it on the day this time!

Overall, leap years are actually an important structure in how time works, how we celebrate our holidays, and observe the earth’s rotation. If you were born on a leap year then you are one of the 0.07% of people who are born on that day, and in addition to that you have the coolest birthday around. Finally, the next time you question if a leap year is really that important, just remember that without it you would be celebrating Christmas in July.