It’s about time Leap years have been part of the calendar since the days of Julius Caesar. A year is 365 days long, but it takes 365 days and six hours for the earth to go around the sun. Over four years, those extra hours add up to an entire day. A supersized February every four years allows the calendar to stay in synch with the seasons.
Well-known Leaplings A handful of celebrities were born on Feb. 29: bandleader Jimmy Dorsey, TV personality Dinah Shore and actor James Mitchell (all deceased), self-help author Tony Robbins, born in 1960, and former Calvin Klein model Antonio Sabàto Jr., born in 1972.
Are you a Leapling? You’re eligible to join the free Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, a birthday club for people born Feb. 29. Nearly 10,000 people from all over the globe have joined since the website’s launch 14 years ago. Find out more at www.leapyearday.com.
Plot point In Gilbert and Sullivan’s famed 1879 comic opera, “The Pirates of Penzance,” the pirate apprentice is born on Feb. 29, and is shocked to learn he’s duty-bound to serve the pirates not until he’s lived 21 years, but until his 21st birthday – which would mean almost his entire life.
Movie version “Leap Year,” a romantic comedy starring Amy Adams, wasn’t released in a leap year. The 2010 film, set mostly in Ireland, focuses on the Irish tradition that says women can propose marriage to men only during leap year.
Not every four years. A Leapling born in 1896 wouldn’t have celebrated his or her first birthday until age 8, in 1904 – because the year 1900 had no Feb. 29. Remember earlier when we said a complete rotation of the sun takes 365 days plus six hours? Well, it actually takes 365 days, five hours and 49 minutes – so over four years, that’s a little less 24 hours. To keep the calendar on track, a Leap Day is added to an end-of-century year only when it also is exactly divisible by 400. So 1600 and 2000 were leap years, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 weren’t. We won’t have a leap year in 2100, 2200 or 2300 either.