Happy Birthday to the estimated 5 million Leaplings, leapers, or leapsters wordwide.

Happy Anniversary to all the couples celebrating their nuptials as well.

This is a group of people that get to have fun celebrating their milestones every four years on leap day.

Leap years are the result of the one day added to the end of February to align the  calendar with the Earth's orbit. Once every four years, a 29th day is added onto the month of February, creating a leap year 366 days.

Leapsters get to claim they are 1/4th their actual age.  At least one couple has taken leap year to the next level.  Beth and Blaine Oelkers of Phoenix, AZ were married on Feb. 29, 1992.  Beth was born on Feb. 29, 1964.  Blaine tells people he married Beth on her seventh birthday, legally.

Now it's all in good fun but there are legal issues such as age requirements to vote, buy alcohol, join the Army, etc..  When do leaplings actually turn 16 to legally drive, 18 to vote or 21 to but alcohol where the law stipulates?  On Feb. 28th or March 1st?  In the US, March 1st is the widely accepted date to be met in common years (non-leap years) varies.  In New Zealand, the official birthday is considered February 28 in common years so leapers get a break.

Leap Year Legends and Customs

An old Irish legend tells of deal St Brigid struck with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years.  The custom is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way that leap year balances the calendar.

In many European countries, middle age traditions dictated among the upper class that any man who refused a woman's proposal on February 29th had to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The gloves were intended to hide her shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

February 29th is also referred to as “Bachelors’ Day” in some places.   If a man's marriage proposal is refused by a woman, he was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, presumably to the woman on Leap Day.

In Scotland, it one was considered unlucky to be born on leap day, with Feb. 29th treated like Friday the 13th. The Greeks still consider it unlucky for couples to marry anytime during a leap year, but especially on Leap Day.

People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.

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Celebrities Born on Leap Day

  • 1468 – Pope Paul III (d. 1549)
  • 1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville) (d. 1868)
  • 1896 – Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (d. 1995)
  • 1968 – Wendi Louise Peters, English television and theatre character actress
  • 1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994)
  • 1924 – Al Rosen, American baseball player
  • 1924 – Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
  • 1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker
  • 1964 – Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
  • 1972 – Pedro Zamora, Cuban-American AIDS educator and TV personality
  • 1972 – Saul Stacey Williams, American singer, musician, poet, writer, and actor
  • 1972 – Antonio Sabàto Jr, Italian-born actor
  • 1976 – Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins), American rapper and actor
  • 1980 – Chris Conley, American musician and songwriter/composer

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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals

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