How can a person be 40-years-old and only have 10 birthdays? How can a couple be married for four years, but only celebrating their first wedding anniversary?
The answer is “Leap Year Day.”
This rare, and some would call “odd” day, happens once every four years and in some very rare times every eight years.
Leap Year Day actually is rooted in astronomy, science and the way man measures time.
Earth’s yearlong revolution around the sun isn’t an exact 365 days. Actually, it takes 365.24219 days to complete the orbit circle, leaving us with some spare time that adds up to an extra day almost every four years.
February 29 is also known as the leap day of the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are divisible by 4, such as 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, and 2024.
Because Earth’s annual revolution is a little short of a quarter of a day, there are rare occasions when there is no leap year. Years that are divisible by 100, but not by 400, do not contain a leap day. The turn of the 21st century — 2000 — was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 weren’t, and there won’t be one in 2100.
Years containing a leap day are called leap years.
Leap year’s origins go back to ancient astronomy. The Egyptians created a 365-day solar calendar but realized it wasn’t accurate and also maintained a lunar calendar to compensate for the extra time. In 46 B.C., during Roman emperor Julius Caesar’s reign, an extra day — Feb. 29 — was added to the calendar every four years. Sixteenth-century astronomers refined the calendar to account for the 365.24-day year in the Gregorian calendar still used today.
Jessica Dekarske celebrates her wedding anniversary on Feb. 29.
“We got married February 29, 2012 because we wanted to take the “leap.” This will be our “first” anniversary,” she said on the Daily Times Facebook page.
Kimberly Armstrong-Pease will be 40-year-old Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, but it will only be her 10th actual birthday.
“I will be 40 and 10,” Armstrong-Pease said in her Daily Times Facebook post. “When it’s not leap year I celebrate it on the following day, March 1st.”
Reports say that when Facebook was first created, it did not give the option of Feb. 29 when setting up a profile, so others did not know it was your birthday, if you were born on leap year day. Facebook has since fixed the missing day.
Some other historical events on Feb. 29 include, in 1944 during World War II, the Admiralty Islands are invaded in Operation Brewer led by American General Douglas MacArthur. In 1940, for her role as “Mammy” in “Gone with the Wind,” Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award. And in 1980, Gordie Howe of the then-Hartford Whalers makes National Hockey League (NHL) history as he scores his 800th goal.
Reach Fred Pace at 740-353-3101, ext. 1927, and follow him on Twitter @fcpace62.