Leap Day: February 29th Facts, Figures, Birthdays and Famous Events

A Celebration of Leap Day

Leap Day, February 29, occurs once every four years.

Since the Gregorian Calendar has only been in effect since 24 February 1582, February 29 2008 is only the 103th Leap Day.

Why the change to the Gregorian Calendar, which has an error of 27 seconds per year?

Because it’s a great deal more accurate than its predecessors.

Gregorian calendar AD 1582 365.2425 days 27 seconds (1 day every 3,236 years)
Julian calendar 45 BC 365.25 days 11 minutes (1 day every 128 years)
365-day calendar – 365 days 6 hours (1 day every 4 years)
Lunar calendar ancient 12-13 moon-months variable

A little bit about Leap Day 2008.

“The year 2008 is a leap year. If you look at a 2008 calendar, you will see that February has five Fridays–the month begins and ends on a Friday. Between the years 1904 and 2096, leap years that share the same day of week for each date repeat only every 28 years. The most recent year in which February comprised five Fridays was in 1980, and the next occurrence will be in 2036. February 29, the leap day, has been associated with age-old traditions, superstitions and folklore.”

What are the legal ramifications of being born on a day that occurs once every four years?

Not as many as you think.

When to celebrate is a matter of personal preference, and the only time having such an unusual birth date really could cause problems is in years when the exact day matters, as getting a driver’s license, sipping your first legal cocktail, registering to vote or playing the slots.

Sometimes, registering on a Web site using a Feb. 29 birthday will result in “Invalid birth date,” though the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies in Oregon, a non-profit advocacy group, offers free software that Web designers can use to avoid the error message.

Statistically, it really doesn’t matter what day someone is born on, says Christopher Mrela, statistician with the Arizona Department of Health Services, which maintains the state’s vital records. Age is computed by year, not actual birth date. So to celebrate a Leap Day birthday in a non-leap year is not a state concern.

One could go get their driver’s license on their actual birth date–this year. But had this not been a leap year, the applicant would have had to wait until March 1.

“Just like anyone born on any other day, you can’t get a driver’s license on the day before you are eligible,” says Cydney DeModica, spokeswoman for the state’s Motor Vehicle Division.

What about gambling in Las Vegas or a glass of wine? Would a person have to wait until March 1? Based on stories from other leap-year babies, it would depend on the pit boss or bartender.

FAST FACT: [And one that we bet you'll not remember for too long after today.]

The longest time between two leap years is eight years. The last time that occurred was between 1896 and 1904. The next time will be between 2096 and 2104.

For a day that has only occured 102 times previously, a lot has happened on February 29.

From Wikipedia:

* 1504 – Christopher Columbus uses his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.
* 1704 – Queen Anne’s War: French forces and Native Americans stage a raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, killing 100 men, women, and children.
* 1712 – February 29 is followed by February 30 in Sweden, in a move to abolish the Swedish calendar for a return to the Old style.
* 1720 – Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden abdicates in favour of her husband, who becomes King Frederick I.
* 1864 – American Civil War: Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid fails – Plans to free 15,000 Union soldiers being held near Richmond, Virginia are thwarted.
* 1892 – St. Petersburg, Florida incorporated.
* 1916 – Child labor: In South Carolina, the minimum working age for factory, mill, and mine workers is raised from twelve to fourteen years old.
* 1932 – TIME magazine features eccentric American politician William “Alfalfa” Murray on its cover after Murray stated his intention to run for President of the United States.
* 1936 – Baby Snooks, played by Fanny Brice, debuts on the radio program The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
* 1940 – For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award.
* 1940 – Finland initiates Winter War peace negotiations
* 1940 – In a ceremony held in Berkeley, California, because of the war, physicist Ernest Lawrence receives his 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics from the Sweden’s Consul General in San Francisco.
* 1944 – World War II: The Admiralty Islands are invaded in the American General Douglas MacArthur-led Operation Brewer.
* 1952 – The island of Heligoland is restored to German authority.
* 1956 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces to the nation that he is running for a second term.
* 1960 – An earthquake in Morocco kills over 3,000 people and nearly destroys Agadir in the southern part of the country.
* 1964 – In Sydney, Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser sets a new world record in the 100-meter freestyle swimming competition (58.9 seconds).
* 1972 – Vietnam War: Vietnamization – South Korea withdraws 11,000 of its 48,000 troops from Vietnam.
* 1972 – Hank Aaron becomes the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.
* 1984 – Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announces he will retire as soon as the Liberals can elect another leader.
* 1988 – South African archbishop Desmond Tutu is arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town
* 1996 – Novelist Joan Collins awarded US $1 million from Random House for breach of contract.
* 1996 – A Peruvian Boeing 737 crashes in the Andes, killing 123 people.
* 2000 – Six year old Dedrick Owens shoots and kills Kayla Rolland, also six years old, at Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Michigan.
* 2004 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns as President of Haiti following popular rebel uprising.

People who only get to celebrate a real, honest-to-goodness birthday every four years probably don’t spare any expense.

February 29 People

Famous people–or not, depending upon how you define “famous”–born on February 29.
1468 Pope Paul III last Renaissance pope (1534-1549)
1692 John Byrom, English poet, hymnist, and inventor of a system of shorthand. (d. 1763)
1692 Edward Cave, England, printer (Gentlemen’s Magazine)
1696 Esprit Joseph Antoine Blanchard, composer
1712 General Montcalm – Hero of the French & Indian war
1728 Robert Bage, English writer (Criticism by Peter Faulkner)
1736 Ann Lee, Shaker movement, Manchester England, Founded the Shaker movement and brought it to America in 1776. (d. 1784)
1756 Christian F. Hansen – Danish architect
1784 Franz KL von Klenze, German architect (Hermitage, St-Petersburg)
1792 Karl Baer – Embryologist, found mammals develop from eggs
1792 Gioacchino Rossini – Italian composer (The Barber of Seville, William Tell) (d.1868).
1792 Karl Ernst von Baler, Russia, Naturalist (discovered human ovum)
1796 [Lambert] Adolphe J Quetelet, Belgian Astronomer / Meteorology
1808 Charles Pritchard – British Astronomer
1812 Hermann Hirschboch, German composer
1820 Adolf Schimon, composer
1828 Antonio Guzman Blanco, president Venezuela
1828 John Phillip Holland, Ireland – Designed and built the first submarine for U.S. Navy (d.1914) Some lists show him born February 29 in 1828, others in 1840.
1840
1844 French Ensor Chadwick – Naval officer at battle of Santiago de Cuba.
1852 Frank Gavan Duffy, Australian judge (d. 1936)
1856 Sedley Brown – Twin brother of J. Edwin Brown, American playwright, author, stage director, actor
1856 J. Edwin Brown – Twin brother of Sedley Brown, USA, Actor
1860 Herman Hollerith – American statistician. Inventor of the 1st Electric Tabulating Machine. (d. 1929)
1864 Jan Svatopluk – Czech poet
1864 Albert Patry – Elbing, East Prussia, Germany [now Elblag, Poland], Actor
1864 Alice Davenport – USA, silent screen comedic actress
1884 Alfred Sendrey, composer
1876 John Harwood – UK, Actor
1888 John Costigan, American regionalist printmaker, and a cousin of the noted American showman, George M. Cohan, whose parents brought the young Costigan to New York City and were instrumental in starting him on a career in the visual arts.
1892 Augusta Christine Savage – Augusta Christine Fells – American sculptor and educator who battled racism to secure a place for African American women in the art world. She became the first Black member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptures in 1934.
1896 Ranchhodji Mararji Desai – 6th Prime Minister of India from March 24, 1977 to July 15 1979. At 83, he was the oldest Prime Minister of India. (d. 1995)
1896 Wladimir Rudolfovich Vogel, composer
1896 Omer C F L Tulippe, Belgian geographer
1896 Stanley Swash, CEO (Woolworths)
1896 William A. Wellman – American Film Director, (first picture to win an Oscar (1928) “WINGS”) (d. 1975)
1896 Archie Ricks – Actor, Second Unit Director or Assistant Director, Director
1904 Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William
Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr., Germany; had a Christian name for every letter in the alphabet, shortened it to Mr Wolfe Plus 585 Sr. The world’s
longest name officially used by a person.
1904 John “Pepper” Martin – Feisty 3rd baseman for St. Louis ‘Gashouse Gang’.
(NL stolen base leader 1933, 34, 36) (d. 1965)
1904 Alan Richardson, composer
1904 Rukmini Devi Arundale, Indian dancer and founder of Kalakshetra (d. 1986)
1904 Jimmy Dorsey (James Francis Dorsey) – Legendary saxophonist, conductor, songwriter and composer. He formed an orchestra with his brother, Tommy Dorsey, lasting from 1933 to 1935, and then led his own orchestra, rejoining Tommy’s orchestra in 1953 and taking over the orchestra at Tommy’s death. (d. 1957)
1908 Alf Gover, English cricketer (bowled in 4 Tests for England/famous coach) (d. 2001)
1908 Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) – French-Polish painter, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest realist painters. (d. 2001)
1908 Masahiro Makino – Japan – Film director
1908 Bernard C. Boyd – Glassmaker and Chemist. Founded Boyd Glass with his son.
1908 Dee Alexander Brown II – He became known to the larger public as a novelist and historian. His great novel “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” is still perhaps the best historical portrayal of the violent relationship between Native Americans and the expansionist Americans with their roots in the Old World.
1908 Edward B. Taylor – Photographer – documented Dayton, Ohio’s African American culture in photographs for nearly 40 years. He was Dayton’s first Black commercial photographer.
1908 Renee Evans – Film actress and Mother of stage actress ‘Diane Alban’
1912 Gaetano Amata – Italy – Film Writer, Director, Assistant Director, Production Manager, Producer
1912 Mary McAdoo – USA, She was named the “Most Outstanding Female Personality”
by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1955.
1916 Leonard S. Shoen – Entrepreneur, founded U-Haul Rental System.
1916 Dinah Shore (Frances Rose Shore) – USA, Actress, Singer, Talk Show Host.
Some sources list her birth date as March 1, 1917
1920 Kosti Klemela – Finland – Actor
1920 Don Ornitz – Photographer and Miscellaneous Crew
1920 Alberto Ribeiro – Portugal – Composer, Actor, Miscellaneous Crew, Producer, Director,
1920 Arthur Franz, USA, Actor, (That Champion Season, Invaders From Mars, Young Lions)
1920 Louise Wood, director of Girl Scouts of USA (1961-72)
1920 James Mitchell, USA, Actor (Palmer-All My Children)
1920 Howard Nemerov, American poet (d. 1991)
1920 Michelle Morgan – French Actress (“Symphonie Pastorale”) France
1924 William D. Hathaway – U.S. Senator (R) from Maine (1973-1979).
1924 Otto Hutter, Physiologist
1924 Carlos Humberto Romero, President of El Salvador
1924 David Beattie, British governor-general of NZ
1924 Al Rosen – Ballplayer, slugging Cleveland 3rd baseman.
1928 Joss Ackland – British actor
1928 Alan Loveday, British(?) violinist
1928 McHenry Boatwright – Opera Singer, American baritone.

1928 Tempest Storm (born Annie Blanche Banks), American actress and star of burlesque. She took the name Tempest Storm as her stage name around 1950, legally changing her name in 1957.
1932 Newel Kay Brown – Wrote the children’s song, “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission,” which every child in the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormon) has sung since 1970.
1932 Jaguar, Brazilian cartoonist
1932 Gavin Stevens, cricket (Australian bat on 59-60 India/Pakistan tour)
1932 Masten Gregory, American F1 Driver
1932 Gene Golub, American mathematician (d. 2007)
1936 Erik Häkkinen – Producer, Director, Writer, Editor, Actor, Cinematographer
1936 Alwin Schockemohle, Germany, equestrian jumper (Olympic-gold-1976)
1936 Alex Rocco, American Actor
1936 Jack Lousma – Astronaut; was a crew member of the Skylab 3 flight in 1973 and Columbia Space Shuttle in 1982.
1936 Henri “The Pocket Rocket” Richard – NHL Hall of Fame Center, Montreal Canadians.
1936 Sharon Webb – Science Fiction Novelist (Earthchild)
1940 Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
1940 Gretchen Christopher – Multi-Gold Record Artist, BMI “Million Airs” Songwriter (“Come Softly To Me”),
Female Lead Vocalist/Arranger, Dancer/Choreographer and Founder of “The Fleetwoods”, first group in the history of Rock & Roll to have multiple #1 Records top Billboard’s Hot 100 in a single year (1959).
1940 Billy Turner – Thoroughbred horse trainer, “Seattle Slew”.
1940 Sanda Aronson – New York, USA – started the Disabled Artists’ Network in April, 1985
1944 David Briggs, record producer
1944 Ene Ergma, Estonian polotician
1944 Dennis Farina, USA, Actor
1944 Phyllis Frelich – deaf American actress, Member of National Theatre of the Deaf, Devil’s Lake ND, (Love is Never Silent)
1944 Sharon Hugueny – Actress
1944 John Niland – NFL guard for Dallas Cowboys.
1944 Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri, Italian illustrator
1948 Willi Smith – Fashion designer.
1948 Yuri Pimenov, USSR, coxless pair rowers (Olympic-silver-1976)
1948 Patricia [Anne] McKillip, US, sci-fi author (Fool’s Run)
1948 Nikolai Pimenov, USSR, coxless pair rowers (Olympic-silver-1976)
1948 Gérard Darmon – Actor, France
1952 Bart Stupak, American polotician (Rep-D-Michigan)
1952 Raisa Smetanina, USSR, cross country skier (Olympic-gold-1976, 80, 92)
1952 Raul Gonzalez, Mexican 50K speed walker (world record)
1952 Tim[othy] Powers, US, sci-fi author (Epitaph in Rust, Night Moves)
1952 Randy Jackson, rocker (Zebra – I Don’t Know, I Don’t Care)
1952 Sharon Dahlonega Raiford Bush – Born in Greensboro, North Carolina. She became America’s first African-American weather anchor when Detroit, Michigan’s WGPR-TV hit the airwaves in 1975; WGPR-TV was the nation’s first black-owned and operated television station.
1956 Peter Brouwer (LDB # 1 in the Honor Society of Leap Day Babies) – Founded Leap Year Babies Honor Society (in 1997).
1956 Jonathan Coleman, Anglo-Australian radio and television personality
1956 Neil Rosenthal (LDB # 57 in the Honor Society of Leap Day Babies) – Poet published by The National Library of Poetry.
1956 Bob Speller, Canadian politician – his father-in-law is also a Leap Day Baby
1956 J. Randy Taraborrelli, American celebritiy journalist
1960 Raenell Dawn (LDB # 39 in the Honor Society of Leap Day Babies) – Founded Leap Year Babies Limited (in 1987).
1960 Dan Daoust – NHL center for Toronto Maple Leafs.
1960 Heidi Henriksen – The 1st of 3 siblings born on consecutive Leap Days.
1960 Ian McKenzie Anderson, British musician and record producer
1960 Anthony Robbins – American Motivational Speaker
1960 Khaled, Algerian raï musician
1964 James Robert Bruce Ogilvy, the only son of Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy and the late Sir Angus Ogilvy. He is second cousin to Queen Elizabeth II.
1964 Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
1964 Olav Henriksen – The 2nd of 3 siblings born on consecutive Leap Days.
1964 James RB Ogilvy, son of English princess Alexandra
1964 Antonella Ponziani – Actress, Director, Italy
1964 Henrik Sundstrom, Sweden, tennis star
1964 Mervyn Warren – Five-time Grammy Award winner (as of 2004), original member of the vocal group “Take 6″
1964 Jahred Shane, Afro-Brazilian rapper/singer of (həd) p.e.
1968 Suanne Braun, South African-born actress
1968 Chucky Brown, NBA forward (Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks)
1968 Cary Conklin, NFL quarterback (SF 49ers)
1968 Gareth Farr – Composer and Percussionist, born in Wellington, New Zealand
1968 Pete Fenson, American curler
1968 Naoko Iijima, Japanese actress
1968 Leif-Martin Henriksen – The 3rd of 3 siblings born on consecutive Leap Days.
1968 Gonzalo Lira, Chilean-American novelist and filmmaker
1968 Bryce Paup, American football player, NFL linebacker (Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills)
1972 Cyrus Beasley, Rowe NY, rower (Olympics-1996)
1972 Fabien Bownes, NFL wide receiver (Chic Bears)
1972 Chris Devine, Allentown Pa, diver (Olympics-96)
1972 Mark Farraway, CFL offensive linebacker (Edmonton Eskimos)
1972 Antonio Sabato, Jr. – Italian-born actor
1972 Dave Williams, American singer (Drowning Pool) (d. 2002)
1972 Saul Williams – Rap Poet, Actor, USA
1972 Pedro Zamora, Cuban-born American AIDS activist (d. 1994)
1976 David Kendall Sr. – Actor, USA
1976 Bryan Gillooly, Auburn NY, diver (Olympics-96)
1976 Ja Rule – American Rapper and Actor
1980 Eric Benz – Actor, Germany
1980 Simon Gagne, Canadian Hockey player, NHL player (Philly Flyers) who has been an all-star
1980 Taylor Twellman, American soccer player
1984 Darren Ambrose, English footballer
1984 Cam Ward, Canadian hockey player
1984 Adam Sinclair, Indian Hockey player
1988 Scott Golbourne, English footballer
1992 Caitlin E.J. Meyer – Actress

If your birthday is February 29, you can join the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies by clicking on this link.

DBKP wants to salute all Leap Day birthdays today!

If you know anyone who has a birthday today, don’t forget to wish them a very cheery “Happy Birthday”–maybe four times.

They won’t hear it again until 2012.

You may also be interested in reading:
Today in Weird History: February 29, 2008

by Mondoreb
images:
* Leap Year Babies
* Leap Year
* jack dandy
Sources:
* February 29
* Babies born on Leap Day can count on years of confusion
* Famous people born on February 29
* time and date

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2 responses to “Leap Day: February 29th Facts, Figures, Birthdays and Famous Events

  1. Sharon Dahlonega

    “When my Leap Year rolls around, I celebrate my birthday for an entire year!” says Sharon Dahlonega Raiford Bush. “Otherwise, it’s an un-birthday on February 28.”

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