I was trying to explain to my kids why there’s an extra day of February this year. After freshening up on the facts via Google, I told them – in short – the earth doesn’t revolve around the sun in exactly 365 days, so we add a day – Feb. 29 – every fourth year to make up for it. If we didn’t, over time, it would fall out of sync and we’d celebrate Christmas in summertime.
This is interesting. But even more interesting to me are the people who were born on this day. There are about 200,000 leap year babies alive in the United States and 5 million worldwide.
Patrick McDonald, the father of OnMilwaukee.com manager of sales development Caroline McDonald, was born on Feb. 29, 1948. In real time, he’s 64, but according to the calendar, he has only celebrated 16 birthdays.
"I actually get one this year," says McDonald.
When presented with the most commonly asked question of leap year babies – "when do you celebrate your birthday?" – McDonald says he celebrates on both Feb. 28 and March 1 on non-leap year years (also called "common years").
For McDonald, the significance of Feb. 29 goes beyond his birthday. Feb. 29, 1968, was his first day in the Army and on Feb. 29, 2008, he retired.
"These are a couple of big things that happened to me on Feb. 29, besides being born of course," he says.
Kristalei Warner-Baskins was born in 1980, but as a leap year baby, she celebrates her 8th birthday today.
"I like having an odd birthday. It's fun to watch people have to think about it when they ask how old I am and I say 7, or as of tomorrow, 8," she says. "They think I'm crazy."
Warner-Baskins usually does not celebrate her birthday, but she did at age 21 and rang it in on both Feb. 28 and March 1.
"It does feel a little different for me just to know that it actually is the 29th. It's nice to know I finally will be another year older," she says.