The Roman dictator Julius Caesar is considered the father of leap year. The ancient Roman calendar system was based on a total of 355 days in a year – a full 10 1/4 days shorter than a solar year, which is the length of time it takes the Earth to make one complete orbit around the sun. To keep the calendar system in line with the seasons, Roman officials were supposed to insert an extra month every so often, but by the time Caesar began to rule Rome, the calendar had gotten seriously out of whack. Caesar consulted with the top astronomers of the day, and in 46 BC he decided to add one day (known as an intercalary day, or leap day) every four years to make up the discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars. Caesar also took the opportunity to rename Quintilis, the fifth month of the year (counting from March), leaving us with the month we now call July.
Leap year comes around every four years. It seems like it is never February 29. In fact, the Michigan Vehicle Code states that people born on February 29th “are deemed to have been born on March 1st.” So how unusual is it to have a February 29 birthday? In the United States, we have 187,000 who were born on that day. Around the world, that number swells to four million. While the chances of being born on February 29 are just 0.068 percent, for the ones whose birthday is today, they still count.
February 29 gave us Dinah Shore and Tony Robbins. And Jimmy Dorsey and Pepper Martin. If not for people born on February 29 we wouldn’t have Tammy Redencic. Tammy was born on February 29, 1972. Today she is celebrating her 11th birthday. That makes her the same age as her granddaughter.
Think about that one. When Tammy is 50 her granddaughter will be 167. Age really is just a number. The Bible says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). That is why the psalmist prayed, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). February 29 is an odd day. But more importantly, it is your only day – of promise. You may not get another one. So make today count.