Is 2020 a Leap Year?

2020 leap year

Karen Arnold/PublicDomainPictures 2020 is a leap year.

2020 is a leap year, which means there will be an extra day in the year. Leap years occur every four years. The extra day falls on February 29, which is called Leap Year Day.

The concept of the leap year dates back to Julius Caesar. Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII developed the Gregorian calendar, which created a 365-day year to keep in line with how long it takes the earth to rotate around the sun. He added leap years to account for the difference to keep the calendar in sync.

Anthony, Texas, is the official Leap Year Capital of the World and holds a festival every four years in the small town on the New Mexico border.

Here’s what you need to know.


Leap Years Were Created To Keep the Calendar In Sync With the Earth’s Rotation Around the Sun

A four wheeled orrery for tracking the earth’s movement around the sun. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The concept of the leap year dates back to Julius Caesar. Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII developed the Gregorian calendar, which created a 365-day year to keep in line with how long it takes the earth to rotate around the sun. He added leap years to account for the difference to keep the calendar in sync.

“It all comes down to the fact that the number of Earth’s revolutions about its own axis, or days, is not equal to or connected in any way to how long it takes for the Earth to get around the sun,” John Lowe, leader of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Time & Frequency Division, explained to National Geographic.

“We’ve made a calendar that comes close,” he said. “But to make it work you have to do these leap day tricks that have some quirky rules.”

However, according to TIME magazine, “England and its colonies didn’t adopt the new calendar until 1752. By that point, the error was up to a whopping 11 days. That year, people went to sleep on Sept. 2 and woke up on Sept. 14.”

The concept has continued to evolve. In 1972, a leap second was created to continue to sync the calendar with the earth’s rotation.


2020’s Leap Year Has Many of the Major Holidays Lined Up Perfectly on the Calendar

Your holiday planning will be a little easier this year thanks to the leap year. The extra day has many of the major holidays lined up perfectly on the calendar.

Valentine’s Day on February 14 will fall on a Friday, perfect for a date night or a romantic weekend getaway. The Fourth of July will be on a Saturday. Halloween is also on a Saturday, meaning that parents don’t have to worry about kids trick-or-treating on a school night.

Christmas will fall on a Friday, setting up a nice weekend to relax with friends and family. And the extra day will help us head into 2021: New Year’s Day lands on a Friday giving workers a three-day weekend before heading back to work.

And Leap Day, the year’s extra day, lands on a Saturday.


The Town of Anthony, Texas, on the Border of New Mexico, Is the Official Leap Year Capital of the World

Photo Courtesy of the Town of Anthony/Facebook

In 1988 Anthony, Texas, a small town on the New Mexico border, became the official Leap Year Capital of the World.

According to an archive of Texas Landmarks & Legacies:

On this date in 1988, the Chamber of Commerce of Anthony, a city that straddles the Texas, New Mexico border, voted to sponsor a “Worldwide Leap Year Festival” and “Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club.” Since no other city had ever sponsored such an event, the governors of both Texas and New Mexico issued proclamations naming Anthony, New Mexico/Texas “The Leap Year Capitol of the World”. The Senator from New Mexico had this fact read into the Congressional Record.

According to an entry in the 2008 Congressional Record: “Twenty years ago in Anthony, two neighbors who shared a common birthday, February 29, decided they should find other people with the same unique situation and have a giant birthday party; after all, it only happens once every 4 years. Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis created the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club which now has almost 500 members. Because of the popularity of the birthday club, they have also created the Worldwide Leap Year Anniversary Club for couples who celebrate their anniversaries on this special day.”

The town hosts a festival and a parade every year featuring people from across the country who were born on a leap year, called 29ers. The first celebration in 1998 brought honored nine people, but has since grown. “In 1992, a few thousand people enjoyed a two-day festival with events including a parade, hot air balloons, a carnival, golf tournament, arts and crafts fair, “42” tournament (played with dominoes), hayrides and more. A new record was set with twenty three Leap Year celebrants sharing a huge birthday cake. “Twenty niners” came from California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, and one lady came from Munich, Germany,” according to the Anthony, Texas Chamber of Commerce.

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