Why February 29 exists

By Bright Igbinovia and Ute Kaiser
Sabine turns 18 on February 29—even though she was born in 1952 and is actually 72 years old. How can that be? Sabine was born on a leap day—like around 5 million people worldwide, including around 55,000 in Germany.
What is a leap day? This extra day is added to the month of February during a leap year. This year, February has 29 days instead of 28 and the leap year has a total of 366 days instead of 365.
The starting point was the Julian calendar from 45 BC. This solar calendar was based on the earth’s orbit around the sun. The problem with this is that the earth takes a little longer each day to orbit the sun—exactly five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. If the calendar only ever had 365 days, it would no longer match the seasons over time. For this reason, an additional 24 hours were introduced into the Julian calendar every four years: the leap day.
However, this was not the right solution. This calendar was 11 minutes and 14 seconds too fast per year. Pope Gregory XIII therefore initially removed ten days of October from the calendar in 1582. He also introduced rules as to when the leap years should fall. The simplest calculation is as follows: All years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2024 (= 506), are leap years. There is also another rule: Full century years like the next 2100 are not leap years. But there is no rule without exception. Full century years that can be divided by 400, such as the year 2000 or the year 2400, are leap years.
The Gregorian calendar, which applies in most countries, works quite well: it only deviates from the natural solar year by one day every 3300 years.
This may not matter to those born on February 29. But when do they celebrate their birthday? Some celebrate as early as February 28, while others only accept congratulations on March 1. Some, like Sabine, accept best wishes for a happy new year on both days.



Alle vier Jahre ist ein Schaltjahr. Foto: tuenews INTERNATIONAL / Linda Kreuzer.






Related posts

Contact Us

Magazine Html