Just for Fun: Take A Leap With Stikins - The Name Labels That Stay Stuck All (Leap) Year Long!
Tomorrow is 29th February so here at Stikins name labels, we’re celebrating with some of our favourite facts about leap years.
Stikins Name Labels Presents…Our Guide To Leap Years!
Why Do We Have Leap Years?
Humans have used calendars for thousands of years to organise time into days, weeks, months, and years. Most calendar systems are based on the sun (solar calendars) or the moon (lunar calendars).
As the Earth orbits the sun, the sun’s position in the sky appears to change. A solar calendar year is the time it takes for the sun to return to a given starting position in the sky, while its position throughout the year indicates the season.
Lunar calendars are based on the time it takes for the moon to complete a cycle of lunar phases; from new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, and back to new moon. This cycle takes around 29.5 days and so most lunar calendars alternate months of 29 and 30 days.
The problem with solar and lunar calendars is that they are both shorter than a solar year (the actual time it takes the Earth to orbit the sun), which takes around 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds (or 365.24 days). Most solar calendars have fewer than 365 days (or exactly 365 days), while lunar calendars contain 12 lunar cycles (or 354 days), which means that both calendars gradually go out of sync.
What Are Leap Years?
The solution is adding extra days or months (known as Intercalation). Intercalation might involve scattering days throughout a calendar year, grouping them into an extra month, or a combination of the two. Years with extra days or months were originally called intercalary or bissextile years; today we know them as leap years (years without extra days or months are called common years). Intercalation may be done every year or as part of a multi-year cycle. For example, some lunar calendars add an extra month every second or third year to stay in sync.
When Do We Have Leap Years?
We use the Gregorian Calendar, which has 365 days divided into 12 months and adds a leap day every four years – with the exception of three leap years, which we skip as part of a four-hundred-year cycle.
If we had a leap year every four years, we would get a four-year cycle of 1461 days (averaging 365.25 days per year). A solar year is around 365.24 days, which means that over a four-hundred-year period the calendar would end up being wrong by about three days – and this is why we skip three leap years out of every four hundred years.
Here’s how you can work out if it’s a leap year:
Divide the last two digits of the year by four; if you get a whole number, it’s a leap year. For example, 2019 was not a leap year because 19 divided by 4 doesn’t give a whole number. 2020 is a leap year because 20 divided by 4 gives 5.
If it is a century year (i.e. the year ends with 00), you divide the whole year by 400. For example, of the last four century years (1700, 1800, 1900, and 2000) only 2000 divides by 400 to give a whole number (5) and so 2000 was the only century leap year in this period. 1700, 1800, and 1900 were the three leap years that were skipped.
Why Do We Call It A Leap Year?
In common years, a fixed date (for example, Christmas Day) will normally progress forward one day of the week each year; so Christmas 2018 was a Tuesday and Christmas 2019 was a Wednesday. In leap years (like this year), we “leap” an extra day ahead – so Christmas 2020 will be a Friday (instead of a Thursday).
The extra days or months added in leap years are therefore known as leap days and leap months and those born on a leap day are traditionally known as “Leaplings” or “Leapers”.
Why Is 29th February Our Leap Day?
It starts with the Romans, who used a number of calendars of varying accuracy. One early calendar had 10 months (today we know them as March – December) followed by a “winter” period. This period became January and February, making February the end of the year (and the logical place to add leap days or months).
However, the Romans weren't consistent in adding the extra days they needed to keep their calendars in sync, which meant that people often didn’t know the date on any given day.
Julius Caesar decided to fix this by introducing his own calendar; the Julian Calendar is still used today and was the basis for the Gregorian Calendar (itself introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to correct problems with the Julian Calendar). It introduced the use of a single leap day added every four years.
Some say this leap day was the 24th February; the Romans previously added a leap month by dividing February into two parts so that the last day of the year was 23rd February (marked by the festival of Terminalia) with the remaining days becoming part of the leap month.
The Romans also numbered the days in each month by counting down to specific days of importance. Initially, this was the next market day but became one of three key days; the Kalends (first day of the month), Ides (one day less than the middle of the month), and the Nones (eight days before the Ides). During the Middle Ages, days started to be numbered sequentially – moving the leap day to 29th February where it remains to this day.
How Do Stikins Name Labels Stay Stuck All Year Round?
Stikins were designed to simply stick on and stay; providing families with a quick way to label their belongings, which saves them time for the more fun things in life.
We combine a durable vinyl, specialist ink, and a unique adhesive to ensure that your name labels will last and last and last. The vinyl is extremely pliable, which allows Stikins to flex along with flexible materials (like wash-care labels) and withstand this movement better than rigid materials that end up damaged or separated from labelled items. The ink is waterproof, abrasion proof, and solvent resistant to allow your personalisation to remain perfectly clear and legible all year long – even after multiple washes, rough handling, or even an accidental splash of suncream! Finally, our adhesive has been specially developed to survive repeat trips through the washing machine – week after week after week.
In fact, our name labels are so long lasting, many families find that their Stikins outlast their children’s clothing and belongings – and they end up asking us if it’s at all possible to remove Stikins from items that their children have outgrown so they can be passed along to siblings or donated to charity.
(Yes, they can: you’ll need to pry up a corner and use some good old fashioned elbow grease – as well as some sticky stuff remover).
So why not give Stikins name labels a try and see for yourself just how long-lasting our stick on name labels can be! Order anytime online, pop an order form in the post, or call us during office hours (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday) to order by phone.