Leap Day Birthdays
By Olivia DeCrane
Mark your calendars, because this February has an extra day.
2016 is a leap year.
So why do we have leap years anyway?
The majority of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, which has 365 days.
However, the solar year has about 365.25 days.
In order to align the Gregorian and solar years, every four years we have 366 days instead of 365.
But the solar year isn’t exactly 365.25 days – it’s more like 365.242216 days.
To make up for this, we actually don’t have a leap year absolutely every four years.
Every 400 years, the leap year is omitted three times.
If a new century is divisible by 4, it will be a leap year.
So 1900 was not a leap year but 2000 was.
This extra day is called a leap day.
The chances of having a leap day birthday, or a birthday on February 29, are about 1 in 5,000.
People born on February 29 are sometimes called leaplings, or leap-year babies.
Three students at Harrison have leap day birthdays.
Ivy Camarillo, Antonio Games, and Angel Ventura are all sophomores that are technically turning four this year.
During common years, or years with 365 days, they all celebrate their birthdays on February 28.
None of the leaplings are doing anything super special for their 16th (or literally 4th) birthday.
“It’s like any other person, I think,” said Games. “You have a cake, open presents. I don’t think it’s different from anyone else.”
Ventura’s family will make him fancy food on the 29th.
Games’s family takes him out to a restaurant to celebrate.
Camarillo plans to go out to eat and spend time with her family.
“We tend to do something a little more special than normal during leap years,” Camarillo said. “Last year we went to Florida, not because of my birthday though. It just kind of happened at the same time.”
Camarillo’s dentist and one of her former middle school teachers also have February 29 birthdays, but those are the only people she knows.
Neither Ventura nor Games know anyone else with leap day birthdays.
Having a February 29 birthday could be stressful and tough, but none of the students wish they were born on a different day.
“I love my birthday,” says Camarillo.
“I don’t mind,” said Games. “I kind of don’t like it because people always ask me how old am I really, since I’ve only had three birthdays. It’s kind of annoying, but it’s fine.”
Since all of the students are turning 16 and don’t have their driver’s licenses yet, they haven’t had to ask themselves when the government believes their birthday is during common years.
John Reitz, a professor of law at the University of Iowa, spoke on the issue in 2008.
He says that while there are no specific laws on when a leapling legally has their birthday during a common year, he presumes that their legal birthday would be March 1.
So for example, if Camarillo, Games, or Ventura want to join the Army when they turn 18, they will have to wait until the March 1.
If you see Ivy Camarillo, Antonio Games, or Angel Ventura this Monday, make sure to wish them a happy birthday. Their next one won’t be for another four years, after all.