Afternoon explainer: The leap-year media frenzy
By David Paterson
(Image: Dan Moyle)
Ever wondered why we have a leap year, who thought of it and whether you're working for free today? Clearly you have because it's the fifth most popular search term on Google right now and every news outlet is carrying the story. We grabbed a coffee and sampled the buzz around the net.
Feb. 29 comes every four years, right?
Yes. And no. According to the BBC’s impressively in-depth post about the subject of leap years, we get a Feb. 29 every four years, unless the year is divisible by 100, in which case it must also be divisible by 400. Confused? You can blame Pope Gregory XIII for that, he came up with the system in the 16th century.
It's all Cleopatra's doing
A search for “Leap Year” on Twitter yields dozens of fixed-salary staffers musing on whether they're working for free today. If you're one of them and looking for someone to blame, National Geographic invites you to direct your ire at Cleopatra. Apparently, the Egyptians were among the first to use a leap year. At some point, pillow talk between Cleo and Julius Caesar must have turned to the general inferiority of the Roman's 350-day calendar, and when Caesar got back to Rome he tore the whole thing up and gave the Western world the 365-day system we still broadly use today.
It’s about frogs, too
Capitalizing on the amphibian connotations of the word “leap,” Toronto Zoo is holding Leap Frog Week. Until March 4, it's offering the opportunity to "get up close and personal" with species of frog never before seen in the zoo. Since one of those goes by the name Splashback Poison Dart Frog, we're not sure how strong uptake is going to be on that offer.
Feb. 29 is a big news day
The CBC has charted the “many momentous things” that have occured on Feb. 29. Included in the list: Pierre Trudeau retired from politics, The Beatles won their first and only Grammy, and Hugh Hefner opened his first Playboy club in Chicago.