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.
* 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.
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
* Leap Year Babies
* Leap Year
* jack dandy
* February 29
* Babies born on Leap Day can count on years of confusion
* Famous people born on February 29
* time and date
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.