What are 'leaplings?': How birthdays work on leap day

FILE - A plate of chocolate birthday cake. (Photo by Stephan Schulz/picture alliance via Getty Images)

If you were born on leap day, you might want to consider buying a lottery ticket. According to Fox Weather, there is only a 1 in 1,461 chance of giving birth on Feb. 29. 

What are "leaplings?"

A leap year typically occurs every four years, as calendars take into account an orbit around the Sun taking more than 365 days to complete. In fact, according to NASA, Earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to complete an orbit around the star.

Those extra hours, minutes and seconds beyond day 365 constitute the extra time that is added to a leap year.

And when someone is born within this extra time, it makes them not only a special person but they're actually called a "leapling," or a "leap year baby." 

In the last leap year in 2020, one family in Delaware was able to add Feb. 29 as a special day as they welcomed a new family member, FOX 29 reported

Patrick Brian Shields was born February 29, 2020, at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. He was born 7:52 a.m. and weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces. 

This year, the New York Post reported on a 55-year-old woman named Liz Duren, born on Feb. 29, 1968. While she turns 56 this year, it's only the 14th time the date has occurred in her lifetime. 

According to the Post, she threw a 10th birthday party when she turned 44. 

How birthdays are celebrated on leap days

Waiting every four years to celebrate a birthday doesn't sound fun. 

Several countries have laws that help determine when a person on Feb. 29 officially turns a year older.

Those who live in the United Kingdom observe leap year birthdays on March 1, while those in the U.S. observe the date on Feb. 28.

Several support groups, including the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, have grown throughout the years and are described as a place where those who share the same birthdays can connect and share experiences.

The history behind leap years

Julius Caesar, in 45 BC, is long credited for beginning the practice of adding an extra day to the calendar year.

According to the Astronomy Program at Francis Marion University, Ceasar’s program worked well for hundreds of years, but those extra days added up.

A new calendar system was employed by Pope Gregory XIII in the 1500s and essentially kept a leap year every four years, with one exception- if the year ended in 00 and wasn’t divisible by 400.

The Gregorian calendar continues to be used by much of the modern world today, and because the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not divisible by 400, they were not considered to be leap years.

Using the Gregorian calendar system, the next year that is slated to be a leap year but won’t be because of divisional powers is the year 2100.

The years 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036, and so on will have 29 days in February, which makes the month longer than is typical, but the second month will still remain the shortest of the year.

FOX Weather contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.