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Editor’s Note February 2024

This Year is a Leap Year!

2024 is a leap year, a leap year is a year with 366 days, instead of the usual 365.

Leap years are necessary because the actual length of a year is nearly 365.25 days, not 365 days as commonly stated. Leap years occur every four years, and years that are evenly divisible by four (2020, for example) have 366 days. This extra day is added to the calendar on February 29.

However, there is one exception to the leap year rule involving century years, like the year 1900. Since a year is slightly less than 365.25 days, adding an extra day every four years results in about three extra days being added throughout 400 years. For this reason, only one out of every four century years is considered a leap year. Century years are only considered leap years if they are evenly divisible by 400. Therefore, 1700, 1800, 1900, were not leap years. Similarly, 2100 will not be a leap year, but 1600 and 2000 were.

Julius Caesar was behind the origin of leap year in 45 BCE. The early Romans had a 355-day calendar and to keep festivals occurring around the same season each year, a 22- or 23-day month was created every second year. Julius Caesar decided to simplify things and added days to different months of the year to create the 365-day calendar; the actual calculations were made by Caesar’s astronomer, Sosigenes. Every fourth year following the 28th day of Februarius (February 29) one day was to be added, making every fourth year a leap year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII further refined the calendar with the rule that leap day would occur in any year divisible by four as described previously.

Whilst nothing special is attributed to February 29th, it’s hardly surprising that it is the worlds rarest birthday, with under 0.1% of the population born on this day. Those born on February 29th usually choose a day either side to celebrate.

Christorpher Columbus also had his life saved on this day when he convinced locals to give him food due to the timing of the Lunar eclipse. More recently, in 1996 the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, the siege of Sarajevo, officially ended.

Whether you choose to celebrate the day with a special proposal, a day off from work! Or just see it as another day, make the most of it! Time goes by far too quickly at the best of times, and to be blessed with another 24 hours of it, should be a celebration!

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