Waynedale Political Commentaries

Celebrating The Leap Year ~ Voice Of The Township

As we wrap up the month of February with its extra day this year, February 29th, I have learned that not everyone is aware of what leap year is and how it came about. And in my research I ran across some interesting information and trivia about leap year I would like to share.

The leap year was invented so that the calendar year (usually 365 days) would not get too far away from the solar or astronomical year. The astronomical year – the time it takes the earth to go exactly once around the sun – is not exactly 365 days. The ancients estimated it as 365.25 days. This may not seem like that far off, but an extra quarter of a day means that over four years the calendar would lose a full day against the seasonal year. So, to prevent this slippage between the calendar year and the astronomical (seasonal) year, we add one extra day every four years, giving us, over the four-year period 1461 days, not 1460, for an average of 365.25 days per year. That day in a leap year is February 29th—the other three years give us Februarys that end on the 28th.

This fact leads to the question: ‘When do leap-day babies (those born on February 29th) celebrate their birthdays?’

The best answer I found to this question came from the old question-answer column, The Straight Dope:

“What you celebrate on your birthday isn’t the annual arrival of your birth date; it’s the fact that you’re one year older. One year = one complete revolution by the earth around the sun = 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds.

To figure the right day to celebrate your birthday, you add 365 and one-quarter days to the hour of your birth. Suppose you were born February 29, 1972 at 10 PM. Then 365 and one-quarter days went by and behold, the first anniversary of your birth hour came on March 1, 1973, at about 4 AM.

The second and third anniversaries also fell on March 1, at 10 AM and 4 PM respectively. Comes year four (1976), and your anniversary is back where it started, February 29 at 10 PM.

Things would have worked out differently if you’d been born at 4 AM on leap day. Your first, second, and third birth-hour anniversaries would have occurred on February 28 at 10 AM, 4 PM, and 10 PM, respectively. If you’d been born at 4 PM, your first anniversary would fall on February 28 but your second and third on March 1.”

Of course, being born on February 29th is relatively rare—a 1 in 4 chance—compared to the other possible days of the year, but sometimes even more rare events occur around leap year day.

On February 29, 1960, Heidi Henriksen was born. Her brother, Olav, joined the family exactly four years later. And in 1968, to the day, Leif-Martin Henriksen entered the world. The Norwegian siblings held the Guinness record for most babies born on a Leap Day until 2012, when the Estes family from Utah tied them: Xavier Estes was born on February 29, 2004; Remington Estes in 2008; and Jade Estes in 2012.

Some famous people were born on February 29th like musician Jimmy Dorsey, singer Dinah Shore and actors Dennis Farina and Petr Scanavino.

And appropriate for celebrating February as Black History Month, leap year day baby, Sharon Dahlonega Raiford Bush 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.

Finally, just in case you need a reminder to vote in the next election, whenever a leap year rolls around we can expect a United States presidential election. Now that you know that, we’ll see you at the polls this May and November.

Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox

Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox

Trustee Austin Knox is a Fort Wayne native who, on January 10, 2020, was unanimously elected trustee at a caucus of Democratic precinct committee leaders of Wayne Township. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer