Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

May 22, 2024

Is Leap Year Really Necessary?


February 29th is finally here, which means the age-old debate about Leap Day is reignited: is it an essential adjustment to our calendar or is it just an unnecessary tradition we could do without? 

The short answer is: Yes, Leap Day is a necessary calendar adjustment that must happen every four years to ensure that our calendar year is perfectly synchronized with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. 

Usually, a calendar year is 365 days long- the same amount of days it takes the Earth to complete one orbit around the Sun, but this is actually a rounded number. According to the Smithsonion, it takes Earth 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds to make a complete orbit around the Sun. The question is, if a calendar year is 365 days, what do we do with the extra 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds?

To address this extra time, Leap day is added to our calendar every 4 years, creating the Leap Year with 366 days rather than our usual 365. Without this necessary extra day our seasons would slowly begin to drift dramatically. After a period of close to 700 years, according to the Smithsonian, our summers, that usually come to be around May in the northern hemisphere, would drift to be in December- affecting agriculture and so much more all over the world. 

Not only does Leap Year allow our calendar to stay in sync with our Solar System, it can also serve as a wildly helpful educational tool, providing insights on mathematical and astronomical concepts. Astronomers and mathematicians can actually use the concepts of Leap Year and Leap Day as a tool to study the mechanics of Earth’s orbit. According to the University of Delaware, astronomers even use it to make sure the positions of stars match up year after year.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Rob Tornoe


But what happens if your birthday falls on Leap Day? According to the New York Times, Approximately 362,900 Americans have a Feb. 29 birthday, but what does this mean every four years? Typically, every year your birthday moves one day ahead, so if you are born on a Wednesday, the next year your birthday will fall on a Thursday. But for people born on February 29th, because there is no extra day during common years, your birthday will skip over a day, so instead of moving to Thursday the next year it would leap to Friday. 

So to answer our repeating question, Leap Year is absolutely a necessary adjustment to our calendar, it allows for our seasons to stay on the regular cycle we are used to and it allows for Earth’s orbit around the Sun to stay perfectly synchronized with our calendar year. How are you celebrating this unusual holiday? 

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About the Contributor
Ellie Keniston
Ellie Keniston, Copy Editor
Ellie Keniston is a Junior at Erie and is in her 2nd year of publication. She enjoys reading and watching movies. Ellie is super excited to continue working on the Tiger Times!

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