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Reason why February has an extra day this year and what would happen if it didn't
Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Reason why February has an extra day this year and what would happen if it didn't

February 29th only comes around every four years

I hate to break it to you folks, but you'll have to wait an extra day for payday this month.

2024 marks another leap year, meaning that the month with end on the 29th instead of the 28th (therefore adding an extra 24 hours for our pay cheques to land).

There are dozens of leap year traditions across the globe. In Ireland, they say that a woman can propose to a man on February 29 - as depicted in the Amy Adams classic, Leap Year.

Meanwhile in Texas, they have a leap year festival to celebrate babies born on February 29.

The state has previously dubbed itself as the 'Leap Year Capital of the World'.

This year's festival is set to take place in Anthony over March 1-2, and will involve 'endless fun for family and friends', as per the festival's official website.

But why do we have leap years, I hear you ask?

It's because each year isn't technically 365 days long. In fact, it takes Earth an awkward 365.242190 days to orbit the Sun - and the .242190 is the entire reason we have an extra day (almost) every four years.

In Ireland, there's an old tradition that woman can propose to men on February 29.
Darren Robb/Getty Stock

Back in a time when you couldn't rely on your handy Google Calendar to check the date, ancient civilizations had to use the cosmos to plan their lives.

Under Julius Caesar's reign, he introduced his Julian calendar in 46 BCE - a purely solar calendar that counted each year at 365.25 days.

This method introduced an extra day every four years to compensate for the .25.

But his calendar wasn't quite right as it was 0.0078 days longer than the tropical year, so Pope Gregory XIII introduced some amendments to Caesar's calendar in the 16th century so that leap years weren't quite every four years. For example, there won't be a leap year in 2100, 2200, 2300.

This is the calendar we still use to this day.

February 29 comes around nearly every four years.
Andres Victorero/Getty Stock

As to what would happen without the addition of the pesky and confusing February 29, our seasons would start shifting.

Younas Khan, a physics instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, explained to The Independent: "Without the leap years, after a few hundred years we will have summer in November.

"Christmas will be in summer. There will be no snow. There will be no feeling of Christmas."

If only the solar year was a perfect 365.25 years, hey?

Topics: News, Life, Ireland, Texas, Science

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