29    Feb 20123 comments

Leap Day: Birthdays and the family tree

Millions of people around the world will celebrate their unique birthday today – February 29 - or Leap day.

Why do we have leap years? We’ve been taught that each year is 365 days because that's the length of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun.

In truth, it takes a little longer (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, according to most calculations) and that’s why leap years were instituted every four years to make up the difference.

There are, however, some exceptions to the four-year rule. We do not count a leap year if the year in question ends in a double zero (1900, 2100) unless the year can be divided by 400 (such as 2000), and then it is a leap year.

People born on February 29 celebrate their birthday every four years. Someone born today would celebrate their Sweet Sixteen when they are 64 years old.

During a non-leap year, a leaper celebrates his or her birthday on February 28. I'm sure there must be a number of MyHeritage users who have this experience within their family tree - which can sometimes lead to a bit of confusion.

Leap Day has some interesting traditions. For some, it is the custom for women to propose marriage to men. The Scots consider it unlucky to be born on this day (somewhat like Friday the 13th).

As to family and birthdays, The Henriksen family from Andenes, Norway, holds the world record for Leap Day birthdays. They have three children born on this day in 1960, 1964 and 1968.

According to The Honor Society for Leap Year Day Babies, there are some 200,000 'leapers' in the US and just fewer than 5 million globally. Officially, February 29 is on their papers, but it is up to them to inform people how old they really are!

Are you a leaper?  If so, how do you celebrate?

Happy birthday to everyone born on this unique day!

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. My son is 11 today. My granddaughters just turned 11 in jan. They think it's pretty cool that their Uncle is the same age as they are. Birthdate 2/29/68
  2. My Grandmother was born on a Leap day , out of her 84 years, She officialy had 21 Birthdays. She celebrated on March 1st when not a Leap year, as She use to say that she was not alive on February 28th.
  3. I was also 11 yesterday. On my 10th birthday, my daughter was also 10 a couple of month's later which was fun. It is a very special day when it is your actual birthday but can be quite dull on other years. When it is your actual birthday, people remember you from your past who are not in your life now. I always celebrate on 28th Feb as I always say that I was not born in March.. I suppose we all have our own feeling about it.

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