Today is a day that comes along just once every four years! No, it’s not the premiere of the Olympics. It’s February 29. But wait a minute!—aren’t there only supposed to be 28 days in February? Typically, yes. There are only 28 days in February. Every four years, however, we hang an extra day off the end of February and call it a ‘leap year’. What does THAT mean?
Well, let’s head to outer space for a moment to get our answer. Here’s how leap year works: we say that 365 days equates to a typical year. But REALLY, it takes the earth 365 days and one quarter (six hours extra) to complete its annual orbit. These six extra hours of our solar year are put on the backburner for three years and then on the fourth year we throw in a whole extra day (6hrs. x 4 = 24) to make up for it all. Thus, February 29 is commonly referred to as ‘Leap Day’.
It may seem a little odd, but it works!
Yet, while February 29 fixes our problem of an inefficient year that doesn’t account for the extra six hours our planet takes to orbit the sun, it also leaves an anomaly for roughly 4 million people in the world who were born on this date. People who were born on Leap Day are known as ‘leaplings’ and their birthdays are constantly in question (which always brings their age into question as well).
That’s right. You can never know just how old a leapling is. See, some leaplings celebrate their birthdays on February 28 for three years until the next leap year. February 29 is the 60th day of the year which is otherwise March 1 in non-leap years which is why you’ll find many other leaplings celebrating their birthdays on March 1.
My suggestion is that leaplings embrace their distinctiveness and observe only their authentic birthdays. Sure it means less cake and presents, but—hey, when your friends are all in their 80s, you can say that you’re just turning 20! Happy birthday to all leaplings today and, as always, thanks for reading!