The History of Leap Year and Why We Have It

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Real Estate

If you have often wondered what the point of leap year is, then know that you are not alone. Many people are unfamiliar with the purpose of leap year, but it does have meaning and is not a random extra day civilizations decided to add to the calendar. The following is an overview of leap year and its purpose.


Leap Year Defined

A leap year occurs every four years and included 366 days in the year, rather than the traditional 365. The extra day is added to the end of February and takes place on February 29th. It serves an important role in keeping our schedule the same every year throughout the centuries. 


What is the purpose of leap year?

Leap year has been around for centuries, and it serves an essential role in keeping the schedule in line with Earth’s orbit around the sun. Without it, the dates we set for the seasons would slowly change, and with enough time, we would eventually be celebrating the winter in July. The reason for this is because the Earth does not rotate around the Sun in exactly 365 days. Instead, it takes right around 365 and a quarter days to make a full orbit. The extra day every four years makes up for the extra six hours it takes to orbit the Sun. 


When did leap year start?

The oldest known origin of the leap year is 45 BC, which is the year the Julian Calendar was introduced by Julius Cesar. In modern-day, we use the Gregorian Calendar, and it is very closely based on the Julian Calendar. However, there was a minor flaw in the Julian Calendar since the exact time it takes for Earth to orbit the sun wasn’t 365 days and a quarter but was instead 365.2425 days. The Gregorian Calendar corrects the issue to ensure we do not jump ahead over the course of centuries. 


What if you are born on a leap day?

One interesting component that leap day (February 29) offers is the idea of being born on a leap day, which means you only have your exact birthday according to the calendar one out of every four years. Naturally, it creates questions such as when teenagers are able to get their license, which is either February 28 or March 1 depending on the state. There are around 200,000 people in the U.S. who were born on February 29th, and the chance of it happening is approximately 1 in 1500. 


The bottom line

Leap year is a fascinating idea that many do not know much about. While many simply accept it as a part of our calendar without looking too much into it, learning more about its purpose and history is certainly intriguing. It is essential in keeping the order in the Gregorian Calendar, which allows us to expect a cold Christmas and a July 4th celebration outside in the warmer weather every year.


Annette Masterson is a licensed broker with EXIT Realty Bob Lamb & Associates in Murfreesboro, TN. She has developed one of the most successful real estate teams in Rutherford County, known as Masterson Network, that specializes in new home construction and residential listings and sales throughout Middle Tennessee. You can email Annette at or call her at 615-896-5656 (Office) or 615-533-1660 (Cell) for more information.