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What happens every four years? With all the political talk these days, one may immediately jump to the conclusion that this month’s topic for Streetwise has something to do with the presidential elections. But this event will actually take place Feb. 29 and is easily overlooked. This year happens to be a leap year, but what does that mean? Four people did their best to explain why a leap year is necessary, and then they shared what they planned to do with their “extra day” this year.

Kimberly Ebner
It has something to do with equaling out the time. And I will probably be working that day.

Chris Reusch
Black Forest
Leap Year is to adjust the calendar because it’s a time thing. I know I will be working that day because it is our peak time (she is a tax advisor).

Wendy Schmit
Colorado Springs
We have Leap Year because it’s something to do with the time difference. We add on to the fourth year. I will probably be working that day.

Dee Vecchio
We have Leap Year to balance out the clock. Every four years we have to get some more time. And I will probably be working.

Why do we need leap year?
The Gregorian calendar, which now serves as the standard calendar for civil use throughout the world, has both common years and leap years. A common year has 365 days and a leap year 366 days, with the extra, or intercalary day designated as Feb. 29. A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun, which is about 3651/4 days.The length of the solar year, however, is slightly less than 3651/4 days-by about 11 minutes. To compensate for this discrepancy, the leap year is omitted three times every 400 years.In other words, a century year cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. Thus 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000 and 2400 are leap years.What are your chances of being born on leap day?About 1 in 1,500How many people were born on leap day?There are about 187,000 people in the United States and 4 million people in the world who were born on Leap Day.The rules for determining a leap yearMost years that can be divided evenly by 4 are leap years.Exception: Century years are not leap years unless they can be evenly divided by 400.When did leap year originate?The Gregorian calendar is closely based on the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. The Julian calendar featured a 12-month, 365-day year, with an intercalary day inserted every fourth year at the end of February to make an average year of 365.25 days. But because the length of the solar year is actually 365.242216 days, the Julian year was too long by .0078 days (11 minutes 14 seconds).This may not seem like a lot, but over the course of centuries it added up, until the 16th century, when the vernal equinox was falling around March 11 instead of March 21. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the calendar by moving the date ahead by 11 days and by instituting the exception to the rule for leap years. This new rule, whereby a century year is a leap year only if divisible by 400, is the sole feature that distinguishes the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar.Following the Gregorian reform, the average length of the year was 365.2425 days, an even closer approximation to the solar year. At this rate, it will take more than 3,000 years for the Gregorian calendar to gain one extra day in error.Source:

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