Dear Amy: Why do we have leap years? —Kristin S., Los Angeles, California
Dear Kristin: We have leap years for several reasons. Leap years happen every four years. In those years, February 29 appears on the calendar, causing the year to have 366 days instead of the usual 365.
It takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to travel around the sun one time. In order for our calendar to stay correct, a day must be added every four years. Leap years function to make the calendar match the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. Otherwise, in just 100 years, the Gregorian calendar that we use today would be incorrect by 24 days.
In order to be a leap year, it must meet specific criteria. First, it must be evenly divisible by 4. Next, if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it must also be divisible by 400. Previously, the Julian calendar was used, and any year divisible by 4 was considered a leap year.
We have since transitioned to the Gregorian Calendar, where the rules described above apply. To learn more, visit Geography for Kids, kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0021B-understanding-time-leap-year.php.
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