Every four years another day appears in our lives and with it a leap year occurs in our calendar, giving February 29 days. For many, this event has a sinister character, for others it is just another day that the universe gives us. But surely, like many of us you also wondered why there is a leap year?
Well, the answer is in the past. Inspired by the observation of the lunar phases, the Babylonians and the Sumerians ancient peoples created the first calendar, being able, then, to compute the time. However, this calendar was inaccurate, since the lunar cycles did not coincide with the solar cycle. This because the first ones had a duration of 29.5 days between each new moon, that when divided in 12 lunar months a year it amounted to 354 days. While the solar cycles lasted 365.256 days.
This situation led to several civilizations to try correcting the difference, adding days and even months each year, being the Egyptian calendar one of the most approximate to have 365 days. But it would be the emperor Julius Caesar in 49 B.C., who knowing of the time gap of the Roman calendar and based on the Egyptian calendar, asked the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria to design a more accurate calendar that was worth the greatness of the Roman Empire.
Sosigenes fulfilled his mission, giving a calendar of 365 days, which would have an extra day every four years to compensate the natural delay of 1/4 a day per year that was not counted. This calendar would keep the names of each of the Roman months and the month of februarius would be the chosen one to add the extra day that would be put between the 23rd and 24th of February. To refer to that day the term used in Latin was “bis sextus dies ante calendas Martias” the sixth day or two before the first day of March. So the year containing this extra day was renamed bissextile year, or leap year.
However, despite the supposed adjustment the Julian calendar had, it was produced a year, a delay of 11.25 minutes, which until 1582 accumulated 10 days. An error that would be corrected on October 15th of that same year by Pope Gregory XIII, who promulgated the papal bull inter gravissimas creating with it the Gregorian calendar used until today.
The birth of the leap year, added to the sinister conception the Romans had about February, generated since then, a tradition in which they attributed certain calamities, which combined with the occurrence of some tragic events in history helped to keep this belief alive.
However, according to the astrologer Patricia Kesselman, being multiples of four, leap years are under the influence of that number that symbolizes abundance, freedom, optimism and growth. So we will be able to enjoy its influence whenever we have positive thoughts and leave preconceptions aside.