Hey, it’s February 29… let’s have a party

1-Mike Staton

This post is authored by Michael Staton.

I’ve always been fascinated by leap years.

As a kid, I’d think about the ramifications of being born on February 29. It was scary. Birthday parties meant oodles of fun back then. There’d be all kinds of games and trips to amusement parks and skating rinks. I liked the birthday parties of my neighborhood friends, but I really liked it when it was my birthday. Nothing like opening up my presents.

But had I been born on February 29, I’d only be able to be the star of my own birthday party once every four years. That just wouldn’t do. Mom liked to send Jody and me to Sunday school at the United Brethren Church in Rialto, the denomination she was raised in when a kid in Rittman, Ohio back in the 1930s and 1940s. I always thought Sunday school was a good time to thank the Lord for not sending my stork down from Heaven on February 29, 1952. I was quite happy being born on November 20, 1951.

Mike's birthday

I think this is one of my birthday parties in Rialto, California. It’s an early one, after we just moved there. Do you like the drapes and the wallpaper?

Mom tried to educate me. I was a thickheaded child, though. “It doesn’t matter, Mike,” she told me more than once. “If you’d been born on February 29, we would celebrate your birthday on February 28 during non-leap years. You would never go without a birthday.”

Mom had a natural expression that said “I’m your mom, I dress you in funny clothes because I know better than you about such things as style and leap years.” So I suspected she was right. Had I been unfortunately enough to be born on February 29, I’d still get my birthday presents even during the years a February calendar ended on February 28.

I never knew anybody born on February 29. Nowadays, with the Internet and social media, I can immediately discover folks with birthdays on February 29 – film and TV actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.; rapper and actor Ja Rule; TV and movie actor Dennis Farina; Big Band leader Jimmy Dorsey, and author and poet Howard Nemerov. Just think if their ages had only the February 29 dates counted as years. Dorsey was only fifty-three years old when he died in 1957. But think how different Dorsey’s obit would read had it only included the specific date of February 29. “Famed big band and swing music conductor and saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey, 13, passed away in New York City on June 12, 1957, less than six months after the death of his brother Tommy.”

Jimmy Dorsey

Band leader and musician wasn’t overly scarred by being born on Feb. 29.

 

The Las Vegas weatherman was predicting a record temperature today – in the low 80s. The previous record is 76. But new records are easy to set on February 29, since – oh, well – since you don’t have 120 years of records, just thirty.

For you techno-geeks, leap years are needed to keep the Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds – to circle the sun. This is called a tropical year, and is measured from the March equinox.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days. Now that’s almost as scary as being born on February 29.

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I’m an author with three published novels — The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The three belong to a trilogy, Larenia’s Shadow. You can buy them on the websites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m currently writing a Civil War novel with a mystical/supernatural feel to it. I’m calling it Blessed Shadows Deep and Dark.

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18 Responses to Hey, it’s February 29… let’s have a party

  1. Doris says:

    What a fun read. The math behind the leap year idea boggles my mind, but Ive never favored math. I will confess, however, the birthday thing did always fascinate me. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      I do recall reading that the day difference got way out of synch in the 17th or 18th century before fixing things. At least now with the leap day every four years things shouldn’t get out of whack.

      Like

  2. Travis says:

    Hey Mike,

    I thought of the same thing when I was younger, about how awful it would be to be born on Leap Year. Fun remembering the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      I figure most kids thought the same thing back in the day–and nowadays as well. In PR’ing this thing on FB, I said being born on Feb. 29 must be similar to being a New Year’s Day baby. An old friend of mine — who I didn’t know was one — said it isn’t so great being born on Jan. 1. Birthdays get kind of lost in the rush of Christmas and the New Year’s Eve celebrations. He mentioned hangovers. It would be bad to have your parents giving you a birthday party when they have hangovers and are running to the bathroom to puke. Lol.

      Like

  3. Wranglers says:

    I love the curtains, tablecloth, and wallpaper. Reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen. You find the most interesting facts to add to your blogs. Thanks for all the thoughts about February 29th. Cher’ley

    Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known two people who were born on Feb. 29th — it was always “more than a birthday party” we had for them as we celebrated having an extra day on the calendar as well as the birthday: GREAT FUN! I never fully understood the reason for the extra day every 4 years, so thanks for helping make that more clear. Science can be fun, but not quite as fun as birthdays! 🙂 Great post, Mike!

    Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known two people who had birthdays on Feb. 29th — when we celebrated on “their day” we always had a major celebration for the simple facts that (1) there was an extra day in the year and (2) their actual birthday only happened once every four years, so had to make up for lost time! LOL I never fully understood why there was a Leap Year, so thank you for making that more clear. Science can be fun, but not as fun as birthdays! 🙂 Great post, Mike!

    Like

  6. I’m sorry for anyone born on February 29th. You know how kids love birthdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Jardine says:

    I knew one person in Primary school who had a Feb 29th Birthday. When we came to be 12 years old he was taunted with the childish ‘You know nothing. You’re only 3.’ He wasn’t one to hang back though, and a few of the boys went home with a shiner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Interesting story of the bullies taunting the Feb. 29 kid. Johnny Cash had a song out in the 1960s, “A Boy Named Sue.” The guy had to do a lot of fighting, kind of like the Feb. 29 boy who got sick of being called a three-year-old.

      Like

  8. Great post Mike! You always find the most unusual things to write about and I love learning them through your writing and research. As a kid I was always glad I was born in the summer because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a birthday. I did feel sorry for the one kid in school I knew with a leap year birthday. Never seemed fair, somehow. My dad was a New Year’s baby. I don’t know what his family did when he was young, but as a family, my mom, sibs and I made sure his day was special.

    Like

    • Mike Staton says:

      I’m glad you guys made sure your dad’s birthday was always something special to be celebrated. A friend who was born on the First said the birthday was lost amidst the merriment of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. When I was a young reporter in Ohio back in the ’70s, the newspaper gave gifts to the baby and parents of the first kid born on July 1 each year.

      Like

  9. I just found out a bookseller friend of mine has a Leap Year birthday. She celebrated it by having a quinceanera so it’s like she’s really 15 years old. I thought that was amusing. I enjoyed your list of famous people who have Leap Year birthdays, like Ja Rule and Dennis Farina. Thanks for the fun post, Mike!

    Like

  10. S J Brown says:

    When I think of February 29th I always think of Sadie Hawkins day. As my aunt explained it to me Sadie Hawkins day was the one day women would ask men out. Of course this was years ago and now there seem to no longer be any etiquette rules for such things.

    Like

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