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February 29 Adventures

By: Nathaniel Geyer, DrPH, CPH, GISP

Leap Day (February 29) is an extra day that happens once every 4 years and most

just consider it to be a day of no significance. Many ancient calendars, including Hebrews, Chinese, and Buddhist calendars are lunisolar, where dates indicate position of the moon as well as the position of Earth relative to the sun. Julius Caesar introduced Leap Day, with help from the Egyptians, which added a day every fourth years on February 29. However, the math was off because it overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes. So, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a modified calendar that kept Leap Day but accounted for the inaccuracy by eliminating it by years not divisible by 400 (i.e., 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years by 2000 was). However, the Gregorian calendar is only off by one day every 3,030 years, so we have some time before this is a problem.

Moreover, there are only about 5 million people on Earth that are born on Leap Day called ‘Leaplings’, standing at about 1-in- 1,461. Meaning that they technically only get to celebrate their births about once every four years, excluding the year 2100, but they do get to be part of an elite group. Legally, though Leap Day babies mark the passing of years the same as everyone else. In Nevada law, anybody born on February 29 is considered to have a February 28 birthday outside of Leap Year.

Although, I am not a Leapling, because I was born on a non-leap year, I still have my February 29 Adventures. Except for 2020, where Leap Day occurred on a Saturday and we were going through the COVID pandemic, whenever February 29 occurs on a weekday, I speak at a School for Autism in the Greater Harrisburg Area and speak about my experiences with Autism. Since 2008, have been faithful on telling my story to Autism teens to assure them that there is a way to have a good quality of

life after high school. I have a PowerPoint presentation that I developed and revise every four years that highlights how much growth I have had with my autism. I encourage you to develop your leap day adventures that showcase your positive social changes and hope to use this experience to help other autistics deal with adulthood.

Unfortunately, it is not an official holiday in the United States. However, in other countries is not treated as a regular day. In Ireland women are encouraged to propose to their parts on leap day. In Greece it is bad luck to get married on February 29 or Leap Year altogether. In China, children give their parents gifts. In other countries leap day are popular days for weddings. Ironically, the United States presidential elections and the Summer Olympic also typically take place during leap years. I encourage you to plan to celebrate the next Leap Day on Tuesday, February 29, 2028.


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