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Catching up on sunlight

An extra day keeps calendars in line

Once every four years an extra day is added to the calendar year. If it wasn’t, seasons would be in disarray as life on earth would be out of line with the solar year.

The solar year is about six hours longer than the Gregorian calendar year, commonly used across the world, making it roughly 365.25 days. Because of the extra six hours, every four years a day is added on February 29 to remain in step. However, this is not entirely accurate.

The difference is approximately six hours, but not exactly. It seems some 11 minutes get lost. To make up for that there is no leap year in years that can be evenly divided by 100, unless they are also evenly divisible by 400. For those who will live to see the year 2100, there will be no leap year. But, the year 2000 was a leap year.

It doesn’t stop there. Even with these changes, in about 8,000 years, the calendar will be one day behind where it is now. However, this is not something of alarm that should keep people awake at night.

The actual leap day is always February 29. Some call people born on that day leapers or leaplings. While some parents have decided to celebrate their child’s birth as being February 28 or March 1, others have left it to their child to decide what to do.

Famous leap day babies include Joss Ackland actor (1928), Henri “the pocket rocket” Richard, Montreal Canadians, NHL hall of famer (1936) and Anthony Robbins (American motivational speaker) (1960).

Finally, in English folklore February 29 is the only day on which women can propose marriage to men. If the men refuse, gifts are in order to the women for at least giving it a go.

Whatever people decide to do with their extra day, remember to keep the calendar on February until Thursday, March 1.