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Quotations about Leap Day
Birthdays on February 29th
Welcome to my page of quotations about having a February 29th birthday on Leap Day. These special people are known as leaplings, leapers, leap babies, leap day babies, or leap year babies. —ღ Terri
Why, of all times, could you have selected this odd month and day, for friends to load you with good wishes? ~Birthday letter quoted in J. R. Macduff, Birthdays, 1893
February 29 people are forever young. ~Gary Goldschneider, "February Twenty-Ninth: The Day of Eternal Youth," The Secret Language of Birthdays: Personology Profiles for Each Day of the Year, 1994
February 29th: A birthday so awesome that the world can only handle it once every 4 years! ~Internet meme, c. 2008
Some leaplings come up with their own rituals to mark non-leap years. Jan Harrell of Ashland, Oregon, handles off years by staying up until midnight with friends who shout "Happy birthday!" in "that magical nanosecond" between February 28 and March 1. "My birthday feels like a cosmic joke," said Ms Harrell, who turns 64 (16) this week. "But not a bad one, just a very, very funny one." ~Associated Press, “America's 200,000 leap year babies make the most of their unique birthdays,” 2012
Say what you will, a man who has a birthday only once every four years is never a man like others... the unfortunate creature who was born on the 29th of February loses at least seventy-five percent of these expressions of joy, in comparison to other people, as can easily be figured out. That is rather hard. Whatever it is that's forfeited — "good wishes" in prose; a Latin ode or a real poem; or ribbons, flowers, cakes, fireworks, torchlight processions, and cannonades — seventy-five percent of them are gone with the wind, anyway... how can he demand a present which is payable on a day which doesn't even exist three years out of four? ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "Consolations For The Unfortunates Born On The 29th Of February," translated by Franz H. Mautner & Henry Hatfield
According to astrologers, people born under the sign of Pisces on February 29 have unusual talents and personalities reflecting their special status. ~Rob Leigh, "February 29: 29 things you need to know about leap years and their extra day," The Daily Mirror, 2012
For some ridiculous reason — to which, however, I've no desire to be disloyal—
Some person in authority — I don't know who; very likely the Astronomer-Royal—
Has decided that although for such a beastly month as February twenty-eight days as a general rule are plenty.
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn't be surprised if it were owing to the agency of an ill-natured fairy—
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year on the twenty-ninth of February;
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you'll easily discover,
That though you've lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you are only five and a little bit over!
~W. S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance, 1879
Then, he remembered the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, Pirates of Penzance, in which the young man could not get his reward at age 21 because he was born on February 29th. There must be another way to emerge into the elder group than by a calendar. ~Thomas Jones, John Cotton, and Betsy M. Chalfin, "The Importance of Humor, Domestic Pets, Music and Interpersonal Relationships," Aging Aggressively: How to Avoid the US Health-Care Crisis, 2013
Indeed, February 29 people tend to be rather peculiar, a fact they know full well. ~Gary Goldschneider, "February Twenty-Ninth: The Day of Eternal Youth," The Secret Language of Birthdays: Personology Profiles for Each Day of the Year, 1994
I wouldn't even have touched upon this ridiculous topic if the question When shall a person born on February 29 celebrate his birthday? had not been raised rather seriously in a famous magazine and left unanswered. Here is the answer and the consolation:
To be sure, a man is born on a certain day, at a certain date; but his entry into the world, his first drawing breath, is the work of a single second. At this point in time, the sun stands at a certain point of its ecliptic. Therefore a given individual will be exactly one year old the next time the sun stands again in this same point; and the legal day which contains that instant is the person's birthday in the true sense, whatever the calendar calls it. This, I think is very clear. Put it in the style of a recipe or a set of instructions, it would run somewhat like this:
1) Have someone tell you the second, minute, and hour of your birth, or if unknown, assume some definite time: for instance, mid-day. 2) Look up the longitude of the sun for this instant in an astronomical calendar. 3) Look up in the calendar for the year in which you intend to celebrate your birthday, the day when the sun will have exactly the same longitude. This day, whatever it is, is your birthday.
If you proceed in this way, you will notice something which will amaze you: if you had been born on any other day — for instance, May 1 — you would nevertheless, under certain conditions, celebrate your birthday on different days, at times on April 30, at times on May 2. Therefore the man born on February 29 isn't always the only one who has to celebrate on different days of the month from the one which the usual method assigns him. Often one rejoices jubilantly at the death of the old year when it still has eighteen more hours to languish, and congratulates the new one eighteen hours before it is born. So in this case, as in thousands of other happenings of life, it's a matter of situation and circumstances.
~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "Consolations For The Unfortunates Born On The 29th Of February," translated by Franz H. Mautner & Henry Hatfield
Aren't the 29ths of February the true Greek Kalends in the years when this month has only 28? Well, if the Greek Kalends are only a poetic Nothing — a pretty phrase created by sublime ancient pedantry — the 29ths of February, three times in four, are a real, solid, prosaic Nothing of ordinary life and daily housekeeping. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "Consolations For The Unfortunates Born On The 29th Of February," translated by Franz H. Mautner & Henry Hatfield
The chances of being born on leap day are slim — 1 in 1,461. Those born on leap day, call them special or unlucky, have to wait every four years to enjoy an actual calendar birthday. ~Supraja Seshadri, "Leap day babies celebrated, but forgotten," CNN.com, 2012
published 2016 Feb 1
revised 2020 Feb 29
last saved 2023 Aug 15