If you, like me, are born on the 29th of February, congratulations, you are one in about 4 million “leaplings” on this planet. That should make a really large Facebook group. Or could be big enough to inspire a worldwide flashmob? Better not post our birthday parties on social networks though, or we may cause a riot in the neighbourhood. Sadly, we do not tend to actively seek out other leaplings to have a big bash together. I for example only know one other person who shares my birthday, though not the same birth year.
Facts about people born on 29th February:
- We are never as old as we look. My goal is to reach 18, but first I hope to make it into the double digits.
- Do we celebrate our non-birthdays in non-leap years? You bet.
- When do we celebrate our non-birthdays? Here is where the community is divided: some of us celebrate on 28th February, some on 1st March. And never the 2 shall meet except for that one day every four years. I am in the February group because I was born on the last day of February. It makes sense. My non-birthday celebrations in non-leap years resemble new year’s eve: I count down to midnight on the 28th, and when the clock strikes twelve my birthday is over without even happening. It’s not as sad as it sounds though. I got used to it by my 6th year on this earth.
- What are the statistical chances of a child being born on leap day? About 1 in 1500, as opposed to 1 in 365 for all other days of the year. So, aspiring parents – it’s all down to careful planning!
- Famous people born on 29th February: the Leapling Hall of Fame
Wondering why no famous leaplings were born in 1800 or 1900? Well, we are lucky to live around the turn of this particular century. There is an extra twist to the leap year rules, as if the whole thing wasn’t already complicated enough: the rules say that a leap year is any year that can be divided by 4. EXCEPT the full centuries: they must be divisible by 400. Thus, 1900 was NOT a leap year, nor were 1800 or 1700. I can barely imagine how people felt when, after 29th February 1896, they found out that their next birthday would not be until 8 years later!
But the 29th February is not ours alone. As it is such a rare date, other people and organisations have been jumping on the bandwagon. This year, 29/02 has been announced as “International Rare Disease Day“, which might feel to some of us like adding insult to injury. As for people getting married on leap day, that’s just mean. Can’t be bothered buying an anniversary gift EVERY year?
I found a lovely Latin term to describe things related to the leap year: “bissextile“. One to impress your friends and disturb your parents with. So, leaplings, after 1460 days, it is our birthday again on 29th February 2012, a Wednesday. Go out there and proudly shout it out in the streets:
“I AM BISSEXTILE!”