## Why do we have Leap Years?

We all know the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun in orbit and the period it takes to finish the revolution is considered a year. We think that the time taken to complete this circle is estimated to be 365 days. But in reality, the Earth takes around 365.25 days, which counts extra 6 hours. So, what do we do with these extra six hours in hand? We add them four times to create a once in a four-year phenomenon called “The Leap Year”.

A long time ago, lived a legendary emperor named Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome. Romulus had a problem, and that was, he found it challenging to keep track of seasons, festivals, and numerous ceremonies. So, to overcome it, he ordered to make a 10 month lunar calendar with each month consisting of either thirty or thirty one days that started in March and ended with December and a total of 304 days. But there was a major issue with this approach, the calendar was not in sync with the four seasons.

But the problem didn’t end there, once Romulus’s reign was ended, and King Numa Pompilius came into power, he decided to take a different approach, with a slight flavor of ancient Rome’s superstitions. According to Romans, even numbers are considered to be a piece of bad luck. So to avoid them, he started removing a day from all the even-numbered months. And now the total number of days of these 10 months counted up to 298 days. But Numa wasn’t satisfied as his intention was to cover the 12 cycles or phases of the moon, which takes around 29.5 days in a month. So they decided to multiply 29.5 days with 12 cycles of moon and came up with a year formed of 354 days. And as it was an even number again, Numa took advantage of being a king and willingly added another day in the year to make a count of 355 days an odd number

But the problem was even bigger now, as they were left with an extra 57 days in hand. So to cover them up, King Numa added two more months at the end of the calendar and stacked 29 days to one month which was January and 28 to another, which was February, the shortest month of the year. But again, what about that extra one day in February that makes a leap year?

As the time progressed and later emperor Julius Caesar came into power, he brought in the solar calendar into the picture, which had a year made of 365 days.

The solar calendar moved January and February in the beginning and made arrangements by adding 10 days in different months to achieve a total of 365 days. But in the end, they were left with a doubt that what do we do with that one extra day that came by adding an extra six hours four times? As February was the shortest month, they decided to add this one extra day to it. And that’s how February got 29 days in a leap year. However, everything is meant to be temporary, so even the Julian calendar began to fail after 1500 years, as the seasons were 10 days late, and thus to overcome this, Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the more refined “Gregorian” one which we still follow and assume that it will show us the seasons and festivals correctly for the next 8000 years.

Did you know, about 4 million people in the world are leap day babies, termed as Leapers or Leaplings? Also another fun fact for you, if January 1st and December 31st fall on different days of a week, then understand that it is a Leap Year.