Leaping Into 366 Days of 2020

Paige Stanley, Staff Writer

A year is not 365 days. Well, it is. Plus 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. A year is classified as the amount of time it takes for the earth to go around the sun. Therefore, every 4 years, the 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds creates enough time for an extra day to be added to the year, which is February 29. This year is that year. That’s right, there are 366 days in 2020.

When students at Seattle Prep were asked if they know what a leap year is, most responded saying they knew leap day is on February 29 but had no idea where it came from. The name of this commonly known phenomenon is where the knowledge stops. Responses were along the lines of, “Yeah this year is a leap year!” or “No, I don’t actually know why it happens” or “I know it’s on February 29!”

The term leap year comes from the fact that days fall consecutively 1 day after the day in fell the year before. For example, Valentine’s day was on a Wednesday in 2018, and then on a Thursday in 2019. However, when there is an extra day, the days are no longer consecutive and it skips over a day, or leaps. Therefore, the year is considered a leap year.

The question now is who decided that a year is the time it takes the earth to go around the sun. The idea for this can be credited to Julius Caesar in 46 BCE. He tracked the 365-day mark and established that an extra day would occur every 4 years. However, the Julian Calendar was revised into the Gregorian calendar by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 who declared that leap year’s do not occur on a century year unless they are divisible by 400. This would better account for the added time.

Now, this may seem not that big of a deal to skip a day. Why does it matter? If there was no extra day added, the seasons would start on different days each year and would eventually not be correlated with the weather at the time. Imagine winter starting in the dead of summer.

While there are no students or teachers with a birthday on leap year, some celebrities born on February 29 are Ja Rule and Tony Robbins. While, this birthday may seem like an extra special one, in some countries like Scotland, it is considered unlucky to be born on February 29 and in Greece, it is unlucky to marry during a leap year.

Other legends about leap year include an Irish legend that St. Brigid and St. Patrick made a deal on February 29, that women can propose to men during a leap year. Another is that February 29 is St. Oswald’s feast day.

With this knowledge and these legends in mind, the important question now is how to make the most of an extra day this year?