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Front Page » February 28, 2012 » Carbon County News » Feb. 29th birthers celebrate
Published 1,316 days ago

Feb. 29th birthers celebrate

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What do Tony Robbins (internationally known motivational speaker), Dinah Shore (famous singer from the big band days), Jimmy Dorsey (big band leader who by the way didn't want Shore singing with his band), William Wellman (director of the first movie to ever win an Academy Award for the best motion picture in 1927, Wings), Jeff "Ja Rule" Atkins (rap and hip hop artist) and Jack Lousma (American astronaut) have in common?

They were all born on Feb. 29, a date which only falls in a leap year.

For years people have been fascinated with those that are born on that day which only happens every four years, with Wednesday of this week being one of them.

For the average person if your birthday is any day except Feb. 29, you share your birthday with approximately .274 percent of the rest of the worlds population. In other words with now over seven billion people in the world, you have about 19 million people who share your birth date. If you just consider those in the United States you have the same birthday as about 860,000 individuals.

However if you were born in any leap year on Feb. 29 you share your birthday with only .068 percent of the world's population. So worldwide, there are less than five million people that have a birthday on the day that occurs only once every four years.

The joke for those that are born on leap year is that they can live longer than any of us and still be younger because their birthday only occurs once every four years. Thus someone who is 40 in years is actually only 10 years old. Unfortunately for them, the invention of the calendar adding one day every four years doesn't slow the aging process down.

But may people have no idea why leap years occur every four years or why that extra day in the calendar exists at all. With our use of the Gregorian calendar, leap years are needed to keep that calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth 365.242199 days to circle once around the Sun. But the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a typical year, so if we didn't add a day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. That means the calendar would be off kilter quite badly after only a few hundred years. Therefore the extra day was added for that .242199 extra time that accumulates every tropical year every four years to make up for it.

The Romans originally put that extra day in their calendar (the Julian calendar) every for every year that was divisible by four, but that put way to many leap years in the calendar. When the Gregorian calendar was begun to be used in the middle ages those that set up that calendar decided on three rules on how to pick a leap year.

• Rule one is that the year had to be divisible by 4, same as the Romans.

• Rule two is that if the year can be divided evenly by 100, then it is not a leap year with rule three being the exception.

• Rule three says that if it can be divided evenly by 400 then it is a leap year.

Things are never as simple as they sound, and for those that are born on that Leap Year day, they aren't always simple either.

In non-Leap Year years, most celebrate their birthday on Feb. 28, because that was the month they were born in. Others do celebrate on March 1 too, however. Some don't celebrate except once every four years, and then they have a real bang up party because of it.

Leap year births bring about some unusual problems for those born on Feb. 29 too. Some get left off lists most years because so many businesses, agencies and even individuals follow various things through calendars. For instance some companies give their employees their birthday off as a leave day each year, but some large employers forget about leap year birthdays and the person affected must correct that each year to be sure they get the benefit in the other three non-Leap Years.

In some lists that may not be all bad, such as in selective service, which is ancient history in these days of an all volunteer military. During the draft lottery in the late 1960s and early 1970s Leap Year births had to be taken account for or those days would not have been put in the lottery therefore leaving out a few thousand young men who may have been eligible. But Uncle Sam never forgot and did include those days in the first lottery held for Vietnam era draftees.

Probably the biggest problem most Feb. 29 birthers face is people forgetting their birthday. It just goes to prove that the calendar is seldom anyones friend.

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February 28, 2012
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