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Leap Year babies celebrate special birthday
BARSTOW — For being only two years old, Josiah Arroyo does pretty well in middle school.
The Barstow Intermediate School sixth-grader is really 12 years old but one of the handful of people in Barstow whose true birthdays only come once every four years. Arroyo is a leap-year baby — born Feb. 29, 1996 — and like five other of his schoolmates, will celebrate his third birthday on Friday.
“Sometimes it’s a bigger celebration,” Arroyo said. “It’s different though, everybody else has already been three, and you’re just turning three.”
Arroyo said his unique birthday is somewhat of joke among his friends. They promised to buy him some Elmo cards or other toys meant for children ages three and up, he said.
Josiah’s mother, Jolene Eby, said that although she celebrates her son’s birthday every year— usually on Feb. 28 — it’s extra-special every four years. She said she plans to throw her son a bigger than usual party to celebrate.
“It’s so much better,” she said. “Because he only has one every four years, we have to do a lot for it.”
Arroyo’s classmate fellow Barstow Intermediate student Katerina Wood, said she sees the benefit of having a Leap Year birthday.
“When everybody else is all old, you’re still young,” she said.
The tradition of adding an extra day to the Roman Calendar every four years began in Roman times as a way to keep the calendar in line with the seasons, said BCC astronomy instructor Scott Bulkley. The earth takes 365.25 days to travel around the sun, not 365 days as commonly thought. Additional adjustments are made every few centuries to keep the process on track, he said.
“If we didn’t do it every time, the seasons little by little would not match up,” he said. “It would be very, very awkward for people. Eventually if that the were the case, in the Northern Hemisphere we would have winter time in June.”
Bulkley said the changes were implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 because it was realized that the speed of the earth’s rotation around the sun did not precisely match up with the existing calendar.
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Did you know?
• If there were no leap years, after 500 years, we would be celebrating Christmas in August.
• The odds of being born on a leap day are one in 1,461, according to The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.
• There are roughly 208,000 leap babies in the United States and 4.5 million in the world.