Is your birthday February 29? Then you’re a leap year baby and part of a fairly small population. In the US, there are 187,000 and worldwide, about four million people, born on February 29th. 2016 was a leap year; the next one is in 2020.
Leap year babies are known as “leaplings.” They have their own society—the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies—that was introduced in 1997. Membership is free; check their website and Facebook page.
Speaking of free, leaplings can cash in for free stuff to celebrate their birthdays. Many restaurants offer free goodies just for being born on the 29th. Who doesn’t like free pizza or cookies? Some clothing companies offer special discounts on their products. Hum, those leaplings are sounding like they have a pretty good deal going.
Famous US Leaplings:
Jimmy Dorsey: legendary saxophonist, composer, and conductor
Dinah Shore: actress, singer, and talk show host
Louise Wood: Director of USA Girl Scouts from 1961–1972
Alex Rocco: actor (Godfather)
Dennis Farina: former police officer and character actor (Law & Order)
Antonio Sabato, Jr.: actor (General Hospital)
Anthony Robbins: motivational speaker
Celebrating Leap Year Birthdays:
Some leaplings celebrate big every four years. Many have themed parties to reflect their leap age. Bouncy houses, costume themes, decade themes—hey, when you only get a party every four years, you go big and have a blowout bash! On off years, some folks celebrate, however briefly, at midnight on February 28th—such a fleeting party! On the other hand, some take advantage of the gap and party for two days, February 28th and March 1st. That two-day option sounds good, right?
Factoids about Leap Year:
Ancient Egyptians added a leap day once every four years to keep their calendar aligned with the solar year. The Romans adopted the practice and designated February 29th as leap day. Julius Caesar is credited for the practice.
The Chinese calendar has a leap month added every three years. 2015 was the most recent leap year on that calendar.
The Ethiopian calendar adds a day to the last month of the year every four years.
According to folklore, women can propose on the 29th.
Anthony, Texas and Anthony, New Mexico each claim the title of Leap Year Capital of the World. Every four years, they hold a four-day festival with a birthday party for leaplings in attendance.
General Custer fought the Battle of Little Bighorn in a leap year.
The Titanic sank in a leap year.
Benjamin Franklin discovered that lightning is electricity in a leap year.
Gold was discovered in California in a leap year.
All in all, leaplings get some special recognition for their birthdays. Just saying that your birthday is February 29th is an excellent icebreaker to get a conversation going. On the flip side, there can be some bureaucratic red tape to deal with. Most states recognize March 1 as the birthday for leaplings. Some leaplings reported that getting their driver’s license was problematic if they showed up at the DMV on February 28th. Most are asked to come back on March 1st.
Happy Birthday to our leap year birthday readers!