Daisy Belle Ward is very wise and experienced for 25-years-old.
The centenarian celebrated a birthday bash on Sunday, the day before her birthday. And once you remember that Monday was a Leap Day, you understand why Daisy Belle Ward is technically only 25.
Her calendar birthday only comes around every four years. According to CBS News, Daisy Belle Ward dressed up for her special day, featuring an 80-piece marching band and tons of family and friends. Her birthday tradition is usually a nice dinner, but this year was extra special.
Naturally, Daisy Belle Ward prefers to say she is 25, but at 100-years-old, she is the oldest known Leap Year baby in the country.
And in fact, Daisy Belle Ward doesn’t have too much company.
Voice of America profiled a few Leap Year babies, who rarely get to celebrate their calendar birthdays and whose inconvenient birth date has caused lifelong headaches. It’s believed that 200,000 people — like Daisy Belle Ward — were born on Leap Day.
Worldwide, 5 million people share that birthday.
In addition to Daisy Belle Ward, South Carolinian Tammy Radencic was born on Feb. 29 and celebrated her 11th birthday on Monday. Just shy of 50, Tammy wasn’t able to celebrate otherwise important birthdays at ages 16, 21, and 30.
So when a Leap Year arrives, her birthday is extra special because it’s actually celebrated.
“When you actually know that day is coming, you’re going to wake up and say ‘Oh, today is actually my birthday.’ I’ll tell you, it is a very special feeling. Unfortunately this year the 29th is on a Monday. I have dentist appointment, I have calls with clients, so unfortunately I’m not going to have anything that’s really celebratory on the fact that I do have an actual birth date this year. But it still will be very special to wake up and know, you know, that today is actually my birthday.”
Sherri Riddle of New Jersey offers a different perspective. When she was a kid, her classmates teased her because she didn’t have a “real” birthday. Born in 1968, she’s technically 12-years-old, and said that she’s had problems entering her real birthdate into computer programs and government systems.
Because Feb. 29 isn’t valid date, her driver’s license and birth certificate are different, which can be a hassle when she travels out of the country.
“It’s really been problematic for me. And I know that those things may seem minor, but it’s things that nobody ever would understand. Or even think you’d have to go through without having that particular birth date. So it’s yeah, not been fun.”
People like Daisy Belle Ward, Radencic, and Riddle have Julius Caesar and a pope to thank for their troubles.
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku explained why the extra day every four years is really necessary.
“Mother Nature has a sense of humor. She did not make a simple calendar so that when you go around the sun, it’s 365 days. That’s what we learned in school, right? Oh no.”Mother Nature made it so that every 365 days plus 5 hours, 49 minutes and a few odd seconds. That means that (annually), we have to compensate for one quarter of a day. So after four years, we have to add one more day.”
Caesar discovered this discrepancy way back in 46 B.C.E., and found the calendar he was following just wasn’t working out. He chatted with an astronomer and they surmised that they needed an extra day every four years to fix it. The Julian calendar was born.
But since the solar year is only.242 longer than the calendar, further adjustments were needed to account for an additional annual surplus of 11 minutes. Pope Gregory XIII made up for this excess in 1582 with the Gregorian calendar, which we still follow.
Kaku explained further.
“The 11 minutes difference in one year’s rotation builds up. And that’s why the pope had to intervene and say we have to tweak the Julian calendar one more time. So for example, in the year 1600, that is divisible by 400, there was a leap year. But in 1700, 1800, 1900 — nope. And then (in) 2000 there was again a leap year.”
But all that matters to Daisy Belle Ward and those like her is that come every four years, they actually get to blow out some candles on their birthday.
[Photo by Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock]