Leap Day 2012—Keeping the Earth on Our Schedule
For the majority of the world, the 29th of February—an official ‘Leap Day’—simply won’t exist again for another four years. But what’s the point of adding an extra day to the calendar and where did the Leap Year tradition actually begin?
Interestingly enough, ancient Rome’s most recognizable emperor, Julius Caesar, first introduced the concept of Leap Years or Leap Days thousands of years ago around 45 BCE.
As most historical accounts show, the modification probably came at the request of an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes, who rightly believed the intermittent addition of extra time to the yearly calendar would better synchronize the seasons with Earth’s orbit around sun.
While the alteration to the ancient Roman or ‘Julian’ calendar—a ten-month calendar that began with March instead of January—did result in a more accurate alignment between seasonal changes and the Earth’s yearly rotation around the sun, a slow shift or loss of time continued in the following years due to an partially inexact formula first used for adding on additional time.
Though the initial formula was blatantly flawed, it was literally thousands of years before any real progress was made in correcting the error.