White Dog snuggled against my shoulder and said, "Well, at least February is over, maybe March will be warmer and brighter and filled with more happiness." "It HAS been kind of a rough month, Little One," I responded, "But there is still one more day of this month.
"Uh-uh! The rhyme says all the rest have 31 except February which has 28." I looked at her in surprise because I can never figure out where she picks up these things, "But it ends, EXCEPT on leap year when it has 29."
"So you humans just randomly toss in another day now and then? Sometimes your rules are just plain crazy! And what the dog is a Leap Year?"
"Let's look it up together," I suggested as we fired up the computer. "And everyone in the world is ok with this idea?" White Dog asked as we waited. "As much as everyone in the world is ever ok with anything."
Here’s what Wikipedia says: A leap year (or intercalary or bissextile year) is a year containing one additional day (or, in the case of lunisolar calendars, a month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, a calendar that had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting (or intercalating) an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year that is not a leap year is called a common year. "Lots of fancy words," WD muttered.
From infoplease.com we learned that Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in the Roman empire over 2000 years ago into the Julian Calendar, but things didn't get corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar more than 1500 years later.
In the Gregorian calendar 3 criteria must be met to be a leap year (there are rules upon rules, WD moaned):
- The year is evenly divisible by 4;
- If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
- The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are leap years, while 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 and 2500
are NOT leap years.
Other calendars also have Leap Years: the Chinese; the Jewish; the Iranian; the Islamic; the Baha’i; the Hindu and the Ethiopian are some.
What are your chances of being born on leap day? About 1 in 1,500.
At that she snorted and hopped down. I heard her in the other room telling the rest of the White Dog Army that Too Late Tuesday just got even longer.