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Leap Year

February 29, 2016

Today is February 29th – the day that defines 2016 as a Leap Year. Leap Years are always in years divisible by four, so now we’re in the 21st century it’s easy to work out in advance whether a year will be Leap or not. It was much harder in the 20th century. The term derives from the Middle Ages, apparently; the idea was that church festivals such as Easter which followed the leap day would be not one but two weekdays later than the previous year – so they could be said to have ‘leaped’ a day. The French term for a Leap Year is anneé bissextile.

That’s about all I have on Leap Years – except to say that if you get the chance today you should read Richmal Crompton’s brilliant story, ‘William’s Extra Day’. It’s to be found in the collection William the Fourth.

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  1. John Dunn permalink

    Was it really much harder in the twentieth century to work out in advance which years would be leap years? All you needed to do in that or any other century was to divide the last two digits by four.

  2. Er… yes, you are right, of course.

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