QCOSTARICA – February 29 comes up every four years. But you already knew that. But what is a leap year?And how many Costa Ricans were born in a leap year (año bisiesto in Spanish)?
A leap year, where an extra day is added to the end of February every four years, is down to the solar system’s disparity with the Gregorian calendar. A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons.
So, why does the extra day fall in February? All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Under his predecessor Julius Caesar, Feb. had 30 days and the month named after him – July – had 31. August had only 29 days. When Caesar Augustus became Emperor he added two days to ‘his’ month to make August the same as July. So February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days.
In Costa Rica, interestingly, in the last century (to be more accurate in the last 112 years was the period studied for this article), a total of 3,251 Costa Ricans came into the world on February 29.
The number comes from a new review of the Birthday application of a century, a comprehensive analysis by La Nacion, who studied the births of Costa Rica from 1900 onwards.
For this information was used Civil Registry (Registro Civil), the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos – INEC) and the Central American Population Center ( Centro Centroamericano de Población- CPC) of the University of Costa Rica (Universidad de Costa Rica – UCR).
The figure of 3,251 is very small when compared with births that occurred before and after this particular date days.
How will today Monday, February 29 be any different? Statistician and demographer at the CCP, Gilbert Brenes, says today does not have to be any different of that in recent leap years.
At last, after all, it’s just another day in the almanac!