Math behind leap year and why 2020 will be the year to party

What is going to make 2020 a little extra special? How about an extra day to enjoy it?

This year is a leap year, meaning the month of February will be one day longer. But why?

The year that we say is 365 days is actually 365.24 days. There’s almost an extra quarter day in there. Give or take .01.

So, every four years, all those quarters add up to almost one and we get an extra day. Not a big deal over a handful of years, but in a century, it’s almost a month. If you let it go a couple centuries, all the seasons will be out of whack. Imagine celebrating Fourth of July in the snow! It’s better we make the correction.

But, what about that extra .01 day?

This is where the math gets interesting. Let’s go to the chalkboard, shall we?

Point-zero-one days is about 11 minutes of time. No big deal over 10 or 20 years. But in 128 years, it equals a whole day.

Since no one wants to keep a 128-year-cycle, they instead decided to skip leap year every 100 years. So, once a century, on years divisible by 100, we skip leap year. We did it in 1800 and 1900.

But wait a minute, we did have a leap year in 2000, didn’t we? Yes. That’s because we’re doing it every 100 years instead of 128 years. Which means, every 400 years we’re off by a whole day, again! So, every 400 years, we skip skipping the leap year.

And really, that’s still a fraction off. It would have been much closer to perfect if we skipped in skipping leap year every 500 years. But, we don’t.

So, here we are.

Leap year is known for a few things. First, it’s the year presidential elections are held.

Ladies, if you want to be traditionally untraditional, it’s a leap year custom for women to propose to their boyfriends on Feb. 29.

People born on Feb. 29 are known as leaplings or leapers. A few famous ones are rapper Ja Rule, actor Antonio Sabato Jr. and motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

And get ready to party! This leap year offers an extra bonus. The shift of days is pushing the calendar into perfect alignment to set up 2020 to be the year of celebrations.

Valentine’s Day will be on a Friday, so you may want to get your reservations now.

Cinco De Mayo will be on Taco Tuesday.

Fourth of July and Halloween will both fall on Saturdays and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day 2021 will both be on a Friday.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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