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NHL goalie Cam Ward; retired Burlesque dancer Tempest Storm; TikTok star Nickolas Ray; and the late, great singer Dinah Shore.
What does that widely varied foursome share in common?
They were all born on Feb. 29….of course all in different years.
2020 is a Leap Year, meaning there is one additional day added to the calendar….Feb. 29 to be exact. Simply put, there are 366 days within the 2020 calendar year instead of the traditional 365.
With extremely rare exception, a Leap Year occurs every four years. We have to add that one extra day (Feb. 29) in an effort to keep our Gregorian calendar synchronized with the solar year.
So, what’s the big deal about that, you may ask. Isn’t the calendar year and the solar year the same? It’s close, but as the old saying goes, “Closeness only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.”
A solar year is defined as the length of time (in days) that it takes Earth to complete one complete orbit around the sun. That cycle consumes 365.25 days (minus 11 minutes and 14 seconds).
It may not seem like much of a difference, but after a few years those extra quarter days in the solar year begin to add up. After four years, for example, the four extra quarter days would make the calendar fall behind the solar year by about a day. Over the course of a century, the difference between the solar year and the calendar year would become 25 days. Instead of summer beginning in June, for example, it wouldn’t start until nearly a month later, in July. As every kid looking forward to summer vacation knows—calendar or no calendar—that’s way too late! So every four years a leap day is added to the calendar to allow it to catch up to the solar year.
To compensate for the 11-minute discrepancy, Leap Year is omitted three times every four hundred years. That means that the start of a new century cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. To that end, 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years.
According to www.infoplease.com, there’s a 1-in-1,500 chance that a person is born on Leap Day (Feb. 29). There are about 187,000 people in the United States and 4 million people in the world who were born on Leap Day.
If you are born on a Leap Day, can you get your driver’s license as early as Feb. 28? Actually, that is left to each state to decide, with most opting to use March 1 as the legal date.
You can also have some fun as a Leap Day baby. Celebrating a birthday once every four years means you are only four-years-old when you first obtain a driver’s license. Or you are five-years-old (plus 365 days) when you legally purchase your first alcoholic beverage!
There’s even an Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. You can find it online at www.leapyearday.com. It lists its goals as connecting with fellow Leap Year Day babies, stopping hospitals from changing the birth date on birth certificate, getting worldwide technology Leapified (no more “invalid date”), getting the words Leap Year Day capitalized in dictionaries, getting the words “Leap Day” in ink on every February 29 on calendars, and having Leap Year Day celebrated by everyone as everyone’s extra day!
The website not only salutes humans who were born on Feb. 29, but animals (family pets) as well.
Here are a few more Leap Year (Day) oddities I found during my online research.
Sir James Milne Wilson was the Premier of Tasmania from 1869 to 1872. The British ruler was born on February 29, 1812 and died on February 29, 1880, making him one of the only known people to have been born on and die on a Leap Day.
Karin and Henry Henriksen of Norway had three kids, and each defied the odds. Heidi, the eldest, was born on February 29, 1960. Olav, the next, was born February 29, 1964, and Leif-Martin, the youngest, was born February 29, 1968.
My job as an educator is complete. You may now “leap” to other pages/other news stories in today’s edition.
Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him (on any day) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7207.