Today is Feb, 29: The history behind Leap Day

Today is Feb, 29: The history behind Leap Day
Image: Lasse Ansaharju via Shutterstock

Today is Leap Day and 2016 is a Leap Year, but do you know why?

Would you believe that it all started with the ancient Sumerians that lived around 3,000 BC? They created a simple calendar that was evenly divided in 12 months, each having 30 days. This gave them a 360-day week which was fine at first, but in time the 5-day discrepancy added up and threw the seasons way out of whack when compared to their calendar so they would randomly add days to their calendars.

Many other cultures used lunar calendars to track time, but they also have a problem since a lunar month is only 29.5 days resulting in a 354-day year. This led to even more problems with keeping up with the seasons and the yearly orbit around the sun. Some cultures, like the Romans, would sporadically add weeks and even months to the calendars to make up the difference.

For centuries, astronomers said that it took 365.25 days for the earth to rotate around the Sun. In an effort to come up with a more accurate calendar, Julius Caesar developed what is known as the Julian calendar of 365 days with a leap day added every four years on February 29.

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