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February 29, 2012

Celebrating Leap Day

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Poor old February 29th. We only see it once every four years and yet, no one really seems to celebrate it. Most special occasions occur on a yearly basis – Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas – they all have a special place on our calendars. But not February 29th. Even though it’s a lot more rare than the popular days mentioned, it seems to receive little to no significant attention.

Well, today, MeloTel would like to celebrate February 29th or “Leap Day” as it is also known. Considering that it is the most rare day of all days, we figured it was worth commemorating. Do you know anyone born on today’s date? We do. A couple of people actually. One of them jokes that he is only a fourth of his real age since he usually “misses” a birthday three years in a row. He thinks it’s great to be born on such a rare date.

The same goes for the head of Alberta sheriffs, Vince Caleffi. This week, the 56-year old law enforcement veteran will be celebrating a 14th birthday party with his teenaged granddaughter, Viola. The Calgary Herald reported on this story, noting that many “leaplings” or “leapers”, as they are known, go all out when their big day comes.

It’s only fair for them to get extra attention, says Caleffi’s wife, Diane, noting that people like her husband only get to celebrate a “real” birthday once every four years. “It has to be four year’s worth to make up for the missed ones,” she said. Our other friend, who is celebrating a birthday today isn’t such a big fan of it because of feeling like she misses out most years.

“I’m still not exactly sure when to celebrate my birthday in years that are not leap years”, she says, “If I celebrate on the 28th, that’s a day early. And if I celebrate on March 1st, I’m in the wrong month. It’s pretty annoying actually. I sometimes flip from year to year. Maybe I should consider myself lucky that I get to choose when to celebrate. It’s like having two birthdays. Shouldn’t I get two parties then?”

So, what’s the point of having February 29th show up once every four years anyway? A leap year, as our friend mentioned, is a year that has 366 days instead of the regular 365. A year that can be evenly divided by four – like 2012 – is often how you can tell that it’s a leap year. More specifically, a leap year will include an extra day in February.

The reason for this, according to Wikipedia, is that there isn’t an exact science on how to calculate a solar year. Earth revolves around the sun every year, which is 365 days made up 24 hours each, but that isn’t 100 per cent accurate. In fact, each year our solar year is off by about six hours. Therefore, to compensate for that combined 24 hour miscue every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar to make up for them.

Wikipedia also explains that, depending on where you are in the world, a person who is born on February 29th is legally recognized as a year older on different dates. In China, the date is February 28th as it represents the final day of the month in most years – much like today does. In Hong Kong, however, March 1st is acknowledged as the legal birthday of those born today in non-leap years, as it represents the day that naturally follows the 28th.

Happy Leap Day everybody!

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