2024 Has a 29 Feb. Here’s What a Leap Year is & Why It’s Needed


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If you opened your calendar recently, you might have been shocked by seeing the number “29” in February.

There’s a 29 February this year — meaning it’s a leap year.

If you didn’t know what a leap year is and why it’s needed so that you can continue celebrating Christmas in December, fret not. We’re here to tell you all about it.

What is a Leap Year?

As most of us know, a leap year is when we suddenly have 29 February slapped into our calendars.

But at the core of it, what a leap year is is a year for us to compensate for a missing day.

Stay with us on this — we’re not kidding when we say 29 February is a missing day.

It all boils down to the fact that our calendar is usually 365 days long — this is based on Earth’s orbit. In other words, our calendar is usually 365 days long because Earth takes approximately 365 days to complete one orbit around the sun.

However, notice that we said approximately 365 days.

In actual fact, the Earth takes 365.242 days to complete the circuit. But we can’t exactly have 365.242 days on our calendar now, right?

Thus, once every four years, we add one extra day, 29 February, to the calendar to correct for the four years worth of 0.242 days of Earth’s orbit that we miss out on.

We have leap years not because someone sat in Parliament one day and decided to move for a bill for a leap year to occur once every four years. We have leap years because of science.

So, that’s what a leap year is — a year where we add one extra day to the calendar to compensate for the partial missing days we’ve had in the past years.

And that’s why we need leap years.

We need it so our calendar stays accurate — so that a few hundred years later, you’ll still have a white Christmas in December and not a sunny Christmas in the middle of the hot summer months.

Why a Leap Year Doesn’t Always Occur Once Every Four Years

But this is where our next problem arises — while leap years are usually known to happen once every four years, it’s not always the situation that leap years occur once every four years.

If a leap year occurred every four years, then by right, we should have had leap years in 1700, 1800, and 1900. However, surprise: those were not leap years.


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The reason is this — if we strictly had a leap year every four years, including in 1700, 1800, and 1900, our calendar would be longer than it should be.

It would be longer by more than 44 minutes, according to the National Air & Space Museum.

Congratulations — you can now boast about your knowledge of leap years to your makan kakis.