It's a Leap Year, Baby!
Posted on 12th January 2020 at 12:51
So … why the heck do we have a leap year?
Do we get an extra day’s pay? What happens to those born on 29th February?
Why do they occur every four years?
And the list of questions could go on, and on!
Let’s get back to basics. This year - 2020 - is a leap year, and as such has 366 days rather than 365 ...
For those of us that follow the Gregorian calendar (12 months in the year, with (usually) 365 days), a leap year helps us to align to the earth’s revolutions around our nearest star, namely the Sun.
Earth follows its orbit around the sun in 365.242 days or in terms of days and minutes, 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds. This is called the tropical year and is how astronomers measure the March or spring equinox.
However, as many of us follow the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in 1582, there is a disparity between the 365 days in this calendar and the tropical year and every four years the extra day is added so we can catch up.
Put it this way, if we didn’t have a 29th February every four years, then we’d lose out on around six hours every year and if you added this up over a century, that would mean we miss out on 24 days!
Back in 2000, when we had a leap year, this was actually very unusual as it is quite rare for leap years to end in a double 0.
We also have Julius Caesar to thank in part for the leap year idea. He introduced it during Roman times, however the way it was worked out back then meant there were too many leap years. This was not corrected until the Gregorian calendar was introduced.
So, if you have a baby on 29th February, does your offspring only get one birthday every four years? This hardly seems fair! Although, arguably cheaper for the gift buyers …
We thought we would have a look into it and it turns out in some instances, a Leapling (the name given to leap year babies) can choose to celebrate either on 28th February or 1st March, depending on the legalities of the country in which they live. Leaplings are also called Leapers or Leapsters. It is thought only 5 million Leaplings exist in the world today, which is a tiny number.
Despite this, a Norwegian family and an American family each had no less than three siblings all born on 29th February, each sibling born in a different leap year.
In terms of how folks are paid for their extra day’s work as part of their salary, it turns out this is worked out as an average over the four years. Sadly, then, not an immediate benefit the pay packet!
And as with any rare occurrence, there are a number of traditions that are coupled with the 29th February.
It is traditional for women to propose to men. The day is sometimes referred to as Bachelors’ Day for the same reason, and in the past, if a bloke said ‘no’ he had to buy the proposer 12 pairs of gloves, which was meant to cover the fact the female didn’t have an engagement ring due to his refusal.
For Yorkshire folk, 29th February is sometimes called St Oswald’s Day, named after the Archbishop of York, who died on 29th February in the year 992.
If you love the idea of having an extra day this year, this year it falls on a Saturday, a perfect day for relaxing, or a romantic proposal!
February is special for snowdrop fans, as these amazing little flowers are out in abundance. You can see them throughout Yorkshire at various locations including Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield, which is famous for its carpets of the white flowers.
If you love stargazing during the dark sky season, the Dark Skies Festival takes place from 14th February to 1st March at various locations in the North York Moors National Park.
In short, a leap year is something that we perhaps don’t really notice as such. It’s a bit like when the hour goes forward or back: we feel a bit ‘lost’ due to the changes in our routine.
Here at the Riviera, we’ll be welcoming an extra chance to make our guests feels welcome on 29th February 2020.
Tagged as: Leap Year 2020
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