Orange City youth pastor Rob Vande Lune was hired at Trinity Reformed Church when he was just six years old.
Born on Feb. 29, Vande Lune is one in a million – or more like one in four million. Four million global citizens can celebrate their actual birthdays only once every four years.
So what’s the deal with the leap year?
What is known as a “common year” has 365 days – a leap year has 366 days with the extra, or intercalary, day designated as Feb. 29. A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun, which is about 365 ¼ days.
The length of the solar year, however, is slightly less than 365 ¼ days—by about 11 minutes. To compensate for this discrepancy, the leap year is omitted three times every four hundred years.
Instead of observing an extremely short Dec. 32 every year, an extra day is added to the calendar every four years. Without this practice, we’d eventually be singing “Let It Snow” in 100 degree weather and hunting Easter eggs in the snow.
For people like Vande Lune who are born on Feb. 29, there are a few birthday issues to work out. “When my wife and I had just started dating, she waited until March first to tell me happy birthday and I told her she’d missed it,” Vande Lune joked.
He described his experience growing up with this unique birthday as “always kind of fun,” and recalled sharing the date with his kindergarten teacher. “It’s always interesting to meet other people with leap year birthdays.”
Vande Lune’s favorite birthday was when he turned 16. “It was actually a leap year that year so that was a big deal. Some of my friends teased me that I shouldn’t be allowed to get my driver’s license until I’m 16 in leap years, which would make me 64.”
Driver’s license and other legal documents can cause problems for those born on Feb. 29. According to Time and Date.com, some people have to wait months to receive their licenses due to computer glitches caused by the unrecognized date.
In other cases, leap year drivers have their perks because extended licenses don’t expire in non-leap years. Most states have legal guidelines for dealing with the driving age, drinking age, and marriage eligibility of those born on Feb. 29.
Most years that can be divided evenly by four are leap years but century years are not leap years unless they can be evenly divided by 400. Thus 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years.
Next week we’ll jump directly from Feb. 28 to March 1 but Vande Lune and the four million other leap day babies will get to celebrate their birthdays in a short 365 days from now.