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Why are there 29 days every four years in February?

29 February 2024 21:45 (UTC+04:00)
Why are there 29 days every four years in February?

By Alimat Aliyeva

In our calendars, February is celebrated every four years as the 29th. 2024 is one of such years. This year, those born on February 29 will be able to celebrate their birthday on this day for the first time in four years, Azernews presents a small study on this topic.

In 2024, there will be 366 days instead of 365. Why is the date of February like this and for what reason?

The Earth orbits the Sun in 365.2422 days. In the Western calendar, which originated in the 16th century, the year is defined as 365 days. The remaining 0.2422 years — 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds — are counted as an additional day every four years. Thanks to this arrangement, our clocks are synchronized with the rotation of the Earth and the seasons. Thus, although there are three years and 28 days in February, there are 29 days in the calendar every four years.

But why February and not another month?

The answer to this question dates back to the 1st century BC. Roman leader Julius Caesar instructed astronomers to prepare the Roman calendar. The Roman calendar consisted of 355 days and an additional month of 22 days every two years. The harmony of the calendar with the seasons was completely disrupted. In the calendar, compiled by order of Caesar, the year was defined as 365 days. A few hours began to add up like a day every four years. This is how the "leap year" was born.

However, at that time there were usually 29 days in February, and 30 days in leap years. There were also 30 days in August. According to historians, Augustus, the new head of the Roman Empire and trying to become as important as Julius Caesar, wanted the long month to be named after him. Because there were 31 days in July, named after Julius Caesar. For this reason, the month of February was shortened by one day and thus one day was added to August.

What if there was no "leap year"?

If this adjustment had not been made in the calendars, the seasons would have started to change. In 700 years, summer in the Northern Hemisphere will begin in December, not June. In some cultures, a "leap year" is associated with bad luck. In Greece, it is traditionally not recommended to get married in a "leap year". Especially in the "leap year", on February 29, some believe that marriages will end in divorce. Some Scots still believe that those born on February 29 bring good luck. In some countries, birth on this day, on the contrary, is associated with success. Some astronomers believe that if a birthday falls on a "leap day", then a person will have a special talent. On February 29, about 4.1 million people are born in the world.

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