Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take a flying Leap Day

My heart goes out to those poor people born on Leap Day. Three out of four years they never get friends wishing them Happy Birthday on Facebook. There are other heartaches they face as well, but who are we kidding? That’s the big one.

In New Zealand on non-leap years a February 29th birthday is officially celebrated on the 28th. Those folks can legally drink one day early. And your boyfriend who’s been holding off because you’re a minor can now sleep with you one day sooner. No big deal for you but a huge big deal for him. 

In certain European nations March 1st is the recognized date when there is no leap year. To me that’s even weirder. Some years you celebrate your birthday in February and others in March. This becomes of primary importance when restaurants offer complimentary meals for your birthday month. If CafĂ© ‘50s thinks you’re scamming them to get that free burger and shake you’re in for a world of grief.

Being a Leap Day baby was a big advantage in the ‘60s when it came time to register for the draft by your 18th birthday. You could put it off for sometimes three years. Not so great when you went to the DMV and tried to get your driver’s license and had to convince the idiot clerk you do in fact exist.

I wonder how many Feb. 29’ers have trouble when carded. They think you screwed up in making your fake ID.

In Ireland there is a tradition where women get to propose to men on Leap Day. If this sounds familiar it’s because it was the premise of that lame romcom you never saw starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. As legend has it, if the boy rejects the proposal he has to buy the jilted lass twelve pairs of gloves… to cover the public humiliation of not wearing a ring. Seems to me white gloves would be more noticeable and mortifying, but hey, I’m not Irish. Take that up with Conan O’Brien.

In ancient times they used to just repeat a day in February. That’s kind of what NBC does with their primetime lineup on Saturdays. At one time in Sweden they not only added a 29th of February but a 30th as well. I think that ended when Volvo complained that their warranties were too long as it was.

The Jewish calendar doesn’t have a Leap Day. It has a Leap MONTH. Yes, every four years they add another month. That’s like an entire astrological sign. Let's call it RonPaul – it only comes around every four years.

I can just see a daily horoscope.

RonPaul – avoid playing musical chairs today.


The Chinese year contains 13 months with a leap month added every three years. That’s the Year of the Pregnant Kangaroo.

For the rest of us it just means one day of free rent, one extra day before we have to pay taxes, studios can inflate their boxoffice receipts for February, and for those lucky folks who are in Southern California or Florida – Disneyland and Disney World will remain open for 24 hours (6:00 AM today to 6:00 AM tomorrow). And Irish girls can wear their white gloves with Minnie Mouse ears and no one will know they were left at the altar.

Happy Leap Day!

23 comments:

Cap'n Bob said...

I wonder if this has screwed up the Aztec calendar.

Cap'n Bob said...

Or is it Mayan? I can never get that straight.

John said...

But just think about the poor 116-year-old who was born in 1896 who couldn't celebrate a birthday until they were eight, because there was no leap day in 1900 (due to an even quirkier quirk in the calendar, leap days in the "00" years only occur every 400 years). Leap year 2000 was on the normal four-year cycle, but February 2100, 2200 and 2300 will only have 28 days. Woe to the 2096 Leap Day baby as well.

jb said...

One thing about having a birthday on this day: your friends don't forget it. Which means I will also be answering e-mails, Tweets, and Facebook messages all day. And nobody ever sends a gift.

Dan Tedson said...

Ha, funny stuff.

I think Feb 29ers make up the shadow police. (Living in the jurisdiction of the LAPD as you do, I should point out those last two words aren't redundant.)

Barry Traylor said...

I heard on our local news this morning that a woman born on the 29th of February had a baby today. Now what are the odds of that.
Just had a thought though what if she had a Caesarean?

Jon R said...

Not just Ireland, men avoiding long-term girlfriends on February 29th is a tradition in Britain too http://www.minsterfm.com/news/local/625761/how-many-women-will-pop-the-question-across-north-yorkshire/

RCP said...

Happy 20th Birthday, Aunt Betty. Born February 29, 1932.

Tim W. said...

I should have been born on February 29th. It would have been a great way to get out of people wishing me a happy birthday 3 out of 4 years.

Speaking of Leap Day, after watching 30 ROck, I convinced my kids that Leap Day William will come and bring candy, and I added the tradition of decorating their own box to put it in. And my oldest convinced her classmates that they need to decorate their Leap Day box. Ah, being a parent can be fun.

Ken Levine said...

I have no say in that. I think that's a Blogger thing, Wendy.

Breadbaker said...

Ken: The Jewish Leap Month is far more complicated than that. Here is an explanation:

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years. Adar I is added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. The current cycle began in Jewish year 5758 (the year that began October 2, 1997).

Note that the extra month is inserted BEFORE the month that has the same name that occurs every year (Adar II). If you're born in Adar I, your birthday will occur as a surprise unless you can figure out the pattern. But you might be musical. http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm sad for those kids who will be born Feb 29, 2096. they won't have a birthday ON their birthday until 2104, since 2100 is NOT a leap year.

Nat Gertler said...

"And your boyfriend who’s been holding off because you’re a minor can now sleep with you one day sooner."

That's not true for anyone now alive, because age of consent in New Zealand is 16, so if you were born on a leap day, you become legal exactly 4 leap days later. (It would be true if you were born in 1884 or 2084, because 1900 and 2100 are not leap years.)

Kati said...
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Kati said...
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Kati said...

Breadbaker, your post makes me cry xD I'll have to reread it about nine times. But very interesting.

Is the extra month on the Chinese calendar REALLY that of the pregnant kangaroo? Thank you wikipedia...

Kati H. said...

Breadbaker, your post makes me cry xD I'll have to reread it about nine times. But very interesting.

Is the extra month on the Chinese calendar REALLY that of the pregnant kangaroo? Thank you wikipedia...

Kati said...

Sorry for the spam :\ I gots confusededed by Blogger.

But it doesn't count because it's Leap Day.

vicernie said...

considering that the odds of being born on February 29 are 1/1461, what are the odds that two characters in tonight's tv shows would have birthdays today?

Pseudonym said...

In New Zealand, the age of consent is 16 (assuming one of the parties isn't in a "guardianship role"). Just sayin'.

Carter said...

Horrible self promotion here - but this what Dublin based radio station 98FM did last night during the half time of an Irish international soccer match...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZq51TM-0go&feature=youtu.be

Johnny Walker said...

The "women proposing to men" thing is observed here in the UK, too... Not that I've ever actually heard of any women taking advantage of it.

VP81955 said...

But just think about the poor 116-year-old who was born in 1896 who couldn't celebrate a birthday until they were eight, because there was no leap day in 1900 (due to an even quirkier quirk in the calendar, leap days in the "00" years only occur every 400 years). Leap year 2000 was on the normal four-year cycle, but February 2100, 2200 and 2300 will only have 28 days. Woe to the 2096 Leap Day baby as well.

Director William Wellman ("The Public Enemy," "Nothing Sacred") was an 1896 Leap Day baby.