One Shelby family is all over Leap Day birthdays

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There are 10s of thousands of Americans who have birthdays on Feb. 29, and some in Shelby County will be celebrating youth that belies their years.

By Lisa King

If your birthday rolls around only once every four years, it could make you feel like taking a giant leap into your birthday cake, right?


At least that’s the sort of unusual response some of you tell us about your birthday being today, Feb. 29, and quite a few of you  responded to our call on The Sentinel-News’Facebook page.

The U.S. Census Bureau says you are among 205,000 people in the U.S. who will share this birthday.

Most of you seem to have pretty fond feelings about your uniqueness.

Susan Bradford chuckled as she recalled her son Will’s “third” birthday four years ago.

“When he turned twelve years old, he and a bunch of his friends went ice skating, and they gave him a t-shirt that said, ‘I’m three years old,’” she said. “And they brought a box of Pampers, and all the kids wore one on their heads while they were skating.

“This year he will be sixteen, or four, depending on how you look at it.”

Having a leap year birthday struck twice in that family – Will Bradford’s aunt, Teresa Biagi, also was born on Feb. 29.

“I was the first baby born in the new King’s Daughters Hospital in Shelbyville in 1956,” Biagi said. “My mother was very excited because the hospital gave her a prize, a free laundry service for diapers, because there was no such thing as a disposable diaper back in those days.”

Biagi recalled the first birthday party she can remember, when she was 4 years old.

“My mom had a big birthday party for me that year, and when it’s a real leap year, I have a bigger party,” she said.

Does she otherwise celebrate it on Feb. 28 or March 1?

Biagi said she usually has her party on Feb. 28 because her sister Anne was born March 1. She said she teases another sister, Susan, because she predicted that Will would be born on Leap Day.

“Will was due in early February, and I said, ‘No, he will be born on Feb. 29 – and he was!”

Then there are the jokes and teasing that accompanies being born on Feb. 29.

Lisa Lewis of Waddy, who is “11” today, said she knows all about that.

“People say, ‘Well, you’re almost old enough to work,’” she said with a giggle.

Lewis said she doesn’t know what her boyfriend, Tony Rucker, has planned for her, only that it will be special.

Christy Jones Kenner said that Taryn Jones, who is originally from Louisville and now lives in Tennessee, will be celebrating her “third” birthday.

“Taryn was born 2/29/00, and she is an amazing little girl who loves having such a special birthday,” Kenner wrote on Facebook.

Taryn’s mother, Amy, said her daughter enjoys having a unique birthday.

“We celebrate her birthday every year, of course, but on Leap Year, we have an extra special party for her, and she gets a kick out of telling her friends she is going to be three years old this years,” she said, laughing. “And I have to say, my kids understood the meaning of Leap Year long before most kids do.”

Connie Jessie of Shelbyville, who celebrates her “15th” birthday today, said she also will be enjoying a special celebration.

“I usually celebrate my birthday on Feb. 28 on non-leap years,” she said. “But on my real birthday, my family does little extra things for me.”


Some Leap Day birthdays

Ryan Allan

Teresa Biagi

Ann Marie Gramig

Tim Hicks

Connie Jessie

Taryn Jones

Lisa Lewis

Judy Hatter McCann

A’Davion Moore

Mike Stone

Cliff Willoughby


Term from Ireland

The term “Leap Year” originated in Ireland hundreds of years ago because the day had no recognition by law and thus was “lept over.”

Operating on that premise, the Irish tradition of men proposing to women was put aside on that day, giving women the opportunity to propose marriage on Feb. 29. 

Some other countries that later adopted that tradition made the proposal acceptable for the entire duration of Leap Year.


Why do we have Leap Year?

According to the United States Naval Observatory, leap years have one extra day because the Earth’s revolution around the sun takes 365¼ days. However, the standard Gregorian calendar is composed of 365 days, so an extra day is added every four years.

Years evenly divisible by four are leap years, with the exception of centurial years that are not evenly divisible by 400. So the years 1700, 1800, and 2100 are not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years.

In addition to the extra day on the calendar, this year is also special because on June 30, a leap second will be added as well.

The last one was added in 2008 by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service in Paris, France to close the gap between official time as measured by the clock and earth time as measured by cesium atomic clocks, which are accurate to one second in 100 million years.