With Leap Day (February 29th) having just passed, I realized that leap years are my favorite years. Leap years are synced up with two activities that I truly love: the Presidential election season and the Summer Olympics.
As a passionate follower of politics, there is no year more enjoyable than a leap year. It is non-stop political action. The key early state primaries and caucuses kick off the year, followed by critical primaries, debates, and other milestones every couple of days all the way until the beginning of the summer.
The end of summer brings more non-stop action with both party conventions taking place immediately before the Summer Olympics. And, of course, following the Olympics, we get to enjoy the escalation of the general election until, finally, Election Day. Then the Presidential transition period concludes the year.
It is continuous excitement for a person like myself who loves both politics and sports, and especially the Summer Olympics.
When Leap Day took place recently, I realized that I did not remember why it is that we add an extra day to the calendar every four years. So I did some research.
First of all, I found out that it is untrue that every four years we have a Leap Day. In fact, in the Gregorian calendar, years that are divisible by 100, but not by 400, do not contain a leap day. The year 2000 had a leap day because it is divisible by both 100 and 400. However, the year 2100 will not have a leap day since it is not divisible by 400.
This Wikipedia page references a 2004 article from the Gale Encyclopedia of Science in providing an answer to the question of why we observe leap days.
A leap day is observed because a complete revolution around the Sun takes approximately 6 hours longer than 365 days (8,760 hours). It compensates for this lag, realigning the calendar with the Earth's position in the Solar System; otherwise, seasons would occur in a different time than intended in the calendar year. The Gregorian calendar has the century rules to the leap year to ensure that Easter occurs near the vernal equinox, or spring in the northern hemisphere. Without the added day, in future years the seasons would occur later in the calendar, eventually leading to confusion about when to undertake activities dependent on weather, ecology, or hours of daylight.
According to TimeandDate.com, "if we did not add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days."
So there you go. I love leap years because of politics and the Summer Olympics. And now I know why leap years even exist.