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Leap years, essential due to the slight discrepancy between the Earth’s orbit around the sun and our 365-day calendar, add an extra day roughly every four years to maintain alignment. However, not all years divisible by four are leap years; exceptions are made to ensure calendar accuracy. Without leap years, our calendar would gradually lose synchronization with the seasons. An alternative proposal suggests adding a leap week every fifth or sixth year for consistency. Despite criticisms, the current system persists, affording us an extra day every leap year.

The Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, addressed the Julian calendar’s drift from the solar year by skipping ten days to realign with the seasons. Initially adopted by Catholic countries, the Gregorian calendar eventually spread globally, with Great Britain adopting it in 1752. This change standardizes the calendar internationally, though some confusion ensued during the transition period.

People born on February 29, or “leaplings,” have distinct birthday celebrations due to the rarity of leap years. They often form bonds with fellow leaplings and organize special events. Leaplings calculate their age in various ways, often considering themselves younger due to the four-year gap between proper birthdays. Despite challenges, they embrace their unique identity and celebrate February 29th enthusiastically, sometimes using the occasion for charitable fundraising.

In various cultures, leap years are addressed differently. The Gregorian calendar’s leap day occurs every four years, while China’s calendar employs a leap month every three years. Each culture has its own approach to maintaining calendar accuracy, reflecting diverse historical and agricultural influences.

Leap year 2024: Why do we have leap years? – Vox

Ten Days That Vanished: The Switch to the Gregorian Calendar | Britannica

A cruise full of people born on leap day? ‘Leaplings’ mark their day. – The Washington Post

By Donovan Adkisson

Editor in Chief of Tifton Talks | Managing Director of Tifton Media Works, LLC

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