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Friday, February 29, 2008
Are you a Leapling?
I'm going to be predictable today and talk about "leaplings" - you know, people born on February 29. I have to admit that I don't actually know any leaplings (at least I don't think I do), but that doesn't make me any less fascinated with them. Let's face it, people who can claim to only have a birthday every four years are interesting - if only for the mileage you can get on the jokes about their age. So, I did some searching on the Internet and found some interesting tidbits about leaplings, leap day, and leap year.

The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies has this to say: Your chance of being born on Leap Year Day is about 1 in 1461. Put another way, only 0.0684% of the world's population are Leapers.

Although the Guinness Book of World Records did not have its beginnings until the 1950s, this person should have a place in it: On this day in 1904 was born: Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr. had a Christian name for every letter in the alphabet. He shortened it to Mr Wolfe Plus 585 Sr. It was the world's longest name officially used by a person.

One of the most well-known traditions surrounding Leap Day is that a woman may propose marriage to the man of her choice on this day and, if he turns her down, he has to compensate her for it. Varying sources credit Queen Margaret and the Scottish Parliament of 1288 for legislating this idea.

From Wikipedia: A leap day is more likely to fall on a Monday than on a Sunday. This is because the Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years, which is exactly 20871 weeks including 97 leap days. Over this period February 29 falls thirteen times on a Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday; fourteen times on a Friday or Saturday; and fifteen times on a Monday or Wednesday.

On this date in 1720, Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden abdicates in favor of her husband, who becomes King Frederick I. As she originally wanted a monarchy like William and Mary of England, she only did so under pressure. Maybe that's why she chose a day that would only come around every four years.

And now, another unusual tidbit courtesy of Sweden (and Wikipedia): The Swedish realm (which included Finland at the time) planned to change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar beginning in 1700 by omitting the leap days for the next 40 years. Contrary to the plan, both 1704 and 1708 were leap years in Sweden. This brought the Swedish calendar one day ahead of the Julian calendar but still ten days behind the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar was restored when, in 1712, two leap days were added, thus giving that year a 30th of February.

One last famous (historical) leapling: Pope Paul III was born on February 29, 1468. Although he looked, and probably felt, like an 81 year old when he died in 1549, in leap years, he was only 20. That made him Pope at age 16!!

Have a great day!

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