•29 February 2012. Dreary. Overcast.
A portrait in brown and gray and cedar.
Although most years have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.76 seconds. And it's those extra 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.76 seconds that's the bugaboo. Every four years, over 24 hours accumulate. If we left it alone, we'd eventually be celebrating New Years Day in the summer. So to adjust it, one day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.
Why they choose to stick it at the end of February, I'm not sure. Perhaps, they felt sorry for the poor 28 day runt-of-the-litter month. But it's a little more complicated.
"February 29, known as a leap day, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by four, such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do contain a leap day; thus 1900 did not contain a leap day while 2000 did. February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year," notes Wiki.
Anyone born on February 29 is called a "leapling" or a "leap year baby." In non-leap years, some leaplings celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1, while others only observe birthdays on the authentic intercalary dates. So they have 75 percent fewer birthdays than you and me, which is a big deal if you are a teenager but not so much so post 30.
Happy birthday, leaplings!