Why is 2020 a leap year?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Buckle up. 2020 is going to be a looooong year. Like, an entire day longer. 

I know, it’s groundbreaking.

Every four years (well, almost every four years) we recognize a leap year by adding a day to February. Here’s why.

We all say that a year is 365 days long, but that’s not actually quite right. A year is actually about 365 days and 6 hours, give or take—that’s how long it takes for the earth to go all the way around the sun

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Those extra few hours would add up if we didn’t account for them somehow. In fact, without leap years, the seasons would flip their start dates every 360 years. That would get pretty confusing after a while.

Now, as to why we call it a leap year—that’s up for debate since the calendar we use is more than 430 years old. It probably comes from the fact that we have holidays like Christmas and the 4th of July that are fixed dates, and therefore generally move up one day of the week each year. 

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In Leap Years, since there is an extra day in February, they “leap” another day forward. That’s why Christmas will fall on Friday in 2020, rather than on Thursday.

In fact, the 2020 calendar is looking pretty good overall. Valentine’s Day will also fall on a Friday and the 4th of July and Halloween both land on Saturdays.

Happy New Year!

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