Every four years, Leap Day is recognized on our calendar, making the year one day longer than the previous three years.
Many reasons have been specified on why the leap year exists, whether it has to do with religion or seasonal changes, and most countries worldwide have adopted the calendar.
But, why do we continue to observe Leap Day?
Scientifically speaking, the Earth revolves around the sun somewhat longer than the 365 days–a tropical or solar year is considered 365.25 days rather than the simple 365.
According to National Geographic’s “The Surprising History Behind Leap Year,” the Sumerians and Egyptians developed calendars that had too many days or failed to sync with the seasons.
In 45 B.C., Julius Ceasar eventually adopted the calendar and fixed it to contain a “Leap Day,” but it was on Feb. 25 rather than Feb. 29. Pope Gregory XIII fixed the calendar, forming the Gregorian calendar that we use most commonly today.
Gregory did not actually observe Leap Day every four years as we do today, with the leap year only being in a year that is divisible by four.
According to Infoplease.com, “There are about 187,000 people in the U.S. and 4 million people in the world who were born on Leap Day.”
The chances of being born in a Leap Year are one in 1,500, which makes you wonder: how are Leap Year birthdays celebrated and recognized?
Most individuals who have a birthday during a Leap Year usually choose Feb. 28 or March 1 to celebrate their birthday.
For Leapers who are looking to renew or get their first license or state identification, they must check with the state’s rule on which day their birthday is supposed to fall on; most states consider March 1 to be the official date of birth for most residents.
While most places follow the Gregorian calendar we use today, some cultures use a lunar calendar, such as the Islamic calendar which has 354 days.
China uses a lunar and solar calendar, sometimes adding an entire extra month every three years.
Leap Day is not generally at the forefront of people’s thoughts. In the future, there could possibly be a change in how humanity organizes its calendar, but after many centuries of rearranging everything, it seems like it would be best if everyone just settled for the system we have.