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Friday 26 February 2016

Leap Year 2016: Fun Facts

8 Fun Facts from JoJoFun

In this week´s blog post, we´ve collected 8 fun facts for kids to learn all about why we add one day to the year every four years. Happy birthday to all leap day babies this Monday!

1. The question most often asked is why do we have leap years? It´s because the Earth actually takes a little longer than 365 days to orbit the sun. Because we measure calendar years as being only 365 days long, after a number of years we have "lost" a lot of time - the accumulation of that bit extra time we don´t measure! To make up for this lost time, we add a day to February every four years - February 29th.

2. Just adding a day every four years keeps things in sync only approximately. Eventually we'd still be too far out of sync, and so to refine things further it was decided that century years (1600, 1700, etc.) that you can´t evenly divide by 400 would not be leap years. For example, 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 won´t be!

3. There are also leap seconds! A leap second is when a second is added to the clock, to make up for time lost due to the gradual slowing down of the Earth´s rotation.

4. The ancient Egyptians were the first people to add a leap day every four years.

5. How can you remember how many days each month has? The oldies are the best. Many people will remember this mother goose rhyme from their childhood:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
Thirty-one hath all the rest,
Except for February clear which has 28 and 29 in a leap year.

6. There is 1 in 1,461 chance of being born on February 29th!

7. Did you know... In about 3,300 years the calendar will be off by 1 day. I wonder how they will recover this lost day, so many years in the future?

8. Were you born on February 29th? Most people who were decide to celebrate their birthdays on February 28th or March 1st instead. Some people born on February 29th refer to themselves as leap day babies or leaplings!

More about leap years online:

Learn what a leap year is, why we have leap years, and how often we have a leap year.. Educational info from Enchanted Learning.
All about leap day babies. Fun facts from Leap Year
Why do leap years exist?. Learn why 2000 was a leap year but 2100 won´t be!
Leap Year 2016: Why does February have 29 days every four years?. Interesting breakdown from the Telegraph.