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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