Mangaluru: Once every four years, people born on Feb. 29 actually get to celebrate their birthday. That’s right, today,Monday is leap day, the extra day added every fourth year to help fix the problem that while our calendar year is 365 days, the solar year — the amount of time it takes the Earth to circle the sun — is 365.24219 days. Among many famous people that were born on 29 February are Former Prime Minister of Indfia Morarji Desai was born at Bhadeli village, Bulsar district in the Bombay Presidency (now in Gujarat) on 29 February 1896, the oldest of eight children; Pope Paul 11 was born on February 29th way back in 1468. He was pope from 1534 to his death in 1549; Rukmini Devi Arundale (29 February 1904 – 24 February 1986 ) was an Indian theosophist, dancer and choreographer of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, and also an activist for animal rights and welfare. And locally, my friend of my age (let’s keep our age secret) CA Praveen Kumar Shetty is a proud ‘Leapling” aka “Leaper” who celebrated his birthday on Sunday with his close friends a day earlier on Sunday 28, because 29 Feb being a busy working day. We all had a “blast” at Praveen’s Birthday “Bash”!
Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai-29 February 1896
Others famous people born on this day are :John Byrom – Romantic poet, Pope Paul III – 16th Century pontiff, George Bridgetower – 19th Century musician, Ann Lee – leader of the Shakers, Gioacchino Rossini – Italian composer, Charles Pritchard – British astronomer, Sir Dave Brailsford – English cyclist and coach, Tony Robbins – Motivational speaker, Alan Richardson – composer, Darren Ambrose – English footballer and Ja Rule – rapper, among many others. Yes Praveen is a leap day baby. And like a lot of people born February 29, he relishes the uniqueness of his birthday. He even thinks there’s an advantage to marking your real birthday just once every four years.
CA Praveen Kumar Shetty
Speaking to Mangalorean.com, Praveen said, “Typically in a non-leap year birthday scenario, I usually go the club and celebrate my birthday with my pals, and when it’s nearing midnight I go into countdown mode — draw a little bit of attention towards myself and say, “My birthday’s coming in four, three, two, one — oh, it’s over.” And then have a cocktail. You have to go big because you only get a birthday every four years. I like to traditionally celebrate my leap year birthday on the years where there is no leap year by having a two-day birthday festival. We don’t have that psychological drama of being a year older every year.
Most leap day babies – perhaps 80 per cent – celebrate their birthdays in February ‘because they’re born in February. They are called strict Februarians.’ What if you’re born on February 29? The chances of having a leap birthday are one in 1,461 to be exact- and there’s quite an eclectic mix of famous people born on the day. People who are born on February 29 are referred to as “leaplings”, or “leapers”. In non-leap years, many leaplings choose to celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1, while purists stick to February 29 for the occasion. Some suggest those born before midday on February 29 should celebrate their birthdays on February 28, while those born in the afternoon and evening of the 28th should celebrate their special day on March 1 (St David’s Day).
Those born around midday are less fortunate when it comes to picking a side. About 4.1 million people around the world have been born on the 29th. Pisces is the zodiac sign of a person born on February 29, and amethyst is the birthstone for this month. Birth certificates and most government agencies like Social Security in USA use February 29 for those born on leap Day, but leaplings occasionally encounter bureaucratic difficulties using their true birth dates. Some computerised drop down menus don’t include February 2
There are no reliable numbers on exactly how many babies are born on leap day, but statistically, the odds of being born then are the same as any other day.Coming round just once every four years, the leap year is a day longer than usual years. A year is, in fact, 365.242 days long, rather than a precise 365 days. Every four years, an additional day is added to calendars to make up for the inaccuracy, explains National Geographic. The extra fraction – as .242 multiplied by four does not equal one – is balanced by skipping the extra day every three out four century years. 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be leap year. The Egyptians are credited with inventing the leap year. Roman versions preceded today’s Gregorian calendar – it was Pope Gregory XIII who, craving perfection when it came to religious holidays, decided to add the three out of four century years rule.
I end this column with a poem for birthday boy, Praveen :
“His is a special day that comes once every four years
It brings lots of smiles and never any tears
Thousands of people all over the world
Wait for this day, including one special Birthday Boy!
Leap Day brings for those chosen few
Something special, mysterious, and new
Everyone else gets older in time
Leaplings stay forever young waiting for February 29
So Praveen, We hope you can see
How special being a Leapy can be
Every four years that all Leapies celebrate
Because all of you Leapies are really great.”