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What would happen if there were no February 29 and leap years?

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What would happen if there were no February 29 and leap years?

February 29 is known as leap day because it only appears in leap years (Freepik)

Contrary to what many popular beliefs might suggest, the existence and necessity of leap years is explained through astronomy, since these constitute an essential method to compensate for temporal discrepancies that occur due to the actual duration of the Earth’s orbit around it. of the sun.

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Imagine living in the southern hemisphere and celebrating Christmas with a snowfall. Or live in the Northern Hemisphere and receive every year on the beach and with 40 degrees.

That would happen to the terrestrial calendar if an extra day in February were not added every four years to have a leap year. That extra day that is added at the end of February every four years guarantees that the calendars are synchronized with the orbit of the Earth to our star, the Sun.

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Specifically, planet Earth takes 365.24 days to complete its orbit around the Sun, equivalent to 365 days, 5 hours, 48 ​​minutes and 56 seconds.

After four years, those leftover hours add up to almost an entire day (23.262222 hours). That’s why leap years exist to adjust the 12-month calendar and align it with the solar cycle. This is the widespread adoption of the Gregorian calendar that guarantees the synchronization of days and months with the 4 seasons that we experience annually.

It takes the Earth 365.2422 days to complete an orbit around the Sun, which is why calendars are adjusted every four years worldwide (National Geographic)

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If February did not have 29 days every 4 years, the calendar would become progressively misaligned, affecting everything from crop planning to climate regulation.

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Incorporating an extra day every four years keeps the calendar aligned with the sidereal year. However, this measurement is not completely accurate. According to Dr. Bob Craddock, a geologist at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, by adding a leap day every four years, we lengthen the calendar year by more than 44 minutes, which would eventually affect the alignment of the seasons.

The introduction of the leap year dates back to the Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. He added an extra day every four years to compensate for the gap between the solar and calendar year. However, this solution generated excessive temporal adjustment.

Pope Gregory XIII imposed the Gregorian calendar in 1592 to organize time

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar, refining the Julian system. Maintaining the idea of ​​the leap year, it was established that if a year is divisible by 100 and not by 400, the leap year is omitted, eliminating some unnecessary leaps. Without leap years, the current calendar would accumulate a gap and over the centuries, this would grow significantly, affecting the seasons and triggering consequences in agriculture, climate and other aspects linked to the solar cycle.

It may sound like an enigma, but this adjustment made the calendar even more accurate, and from then on it became known as the Gregorian calendar. Because of this rule, the year 2000 was a leap year, while the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not. The next exception will be in the year 2100.

2024, being divisible by 4, meets the condition to be a leap year. This year, the tradition of adding a day becomes a practice that connects antiquity with modernity, reminding us of the importance of maintaining harmony between our time measurement system and celestial rhythms.

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Synchronizing the seasons is one of the most important points for human beings. And you can do it by adding one day every four years

If the calendar didn’t make that small correction every four years, it would gradually fall out of alignment with the seasons. Over centuries, this could lead to the solstices and equinoxes occurring at different times than expected.

Winter weather could turn into what the calendar showed as summer, and farmers could become confused about when to plant their seeds.

According to a National Geographic article, if this missing time is not taken into account, every 12 years the calendars would suffer a three-day lag and the seasons could not even begin in the same month each year. A true chaos that could bring more than one complication in various areas of life.

People who are born on February 29 are registered that day and celebrate their birthday on February 28 or March 1 when the celebration does not fall on a leap year (Freepik)

February 29th occurs every four years. That is why it is not very common to find people who were born on that date. In fact, they represent only 0.1% of the world‘s population. It is estimated that the probability of being born on February 29 is 1 in 1,461.

When a person is born in Argentina, it is mandatory that their parents or guardians register them in the Civil Registry. It is a state organization that has the obligation to record the most important background information of the country’s citizens from birth and through the different stages of their lives. This is established by the ley 17.671which was sanctioned in 1968.

When someone is born on February 29, that individual must legally be registered with that date of birth, which will be visible on their birth certificate and in other documents, such as the National Identity Document (DNI).

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In any case, it is up to their parents or guardians, or the person themselves when they have the use of reason, to celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1 each year, although this does not imply any legal change.

The leap years since 1980 were 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and the present, 2024.

Then until the end of the century they will be 2028, 2032, 2036, 2040, 2044, 2048, 2052, 2056, 2060, 2064, 2068, 2072, 2076, 2080, 2084, 2088, 2092 and 2096.

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