February 29th – Happy Leap day!

February 29th is a leap day or “leap year day”. It is an intercalary date added periodically to create leap years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the 60th day of a leap year in both Julian and Gregorian calendars, and 306 days remain until the end of the leap year. [1]

Nearly every four years, we add an extra day to the calendar in the form of February 29, also known as Leap Day. These additional 24 hours are built into the calendar to ensure that it stays in line with the Earth’s movement around the sun. 

While the modern calendar contains 365 days, the actual time it takes for Earth to orbit its star is slightly longer, “roughly” 365.2421 days. The difference might seem negligible, but over decades and centuries that missing quarter of a day per year can add up. To ensure consistency with the true astronomical year, it is necessary to periodically add in an extra day to make up the lost time and get the calendar back in synch with the heavens. 

“Folks born on Leap Day, or Feb. 29, usually celebrate their birthdays on Feb. 28, because they are February babies, not March.” [2]

“…roughly 5 million people worldwide born on that day — aka “leaplings” — will get to celebrate on their actual birthday. Others will spend it commemorating a leap day wedding, engagement or anniversary.” [3]

Leap day is eventful day . For Ireland, it is a day that women are permitted to propose to men.

“The Brits adopted a leap year tradition of their own: alcohol. Invented by world-renowned bartender Henry Craddock at the American Bar of London’s Savoy Hotel, the Leap Year — a blend of gin, vermouth, lemon juice and Grand Marnier — made its debut in 1928. According to Craddock’s 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book,” the drink is said “to have been responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail that has ever been mixed.” [4]

The date is also considered unlucky for many cultures.  In Scotland, for example, it is similar to Friday the 13th. Being born on a leap day is a bad omen. Scottish farmers have been known to remark, “Leap year was never a good sheep year.”[5]

While there are no Russian descendants in the Griffis family, within the Russian culture, February 29th is the day of the patron of death, ‘Koschei the Immortal’. With the advent of the Christian Orthodox faith, this date became a holiday of St. John Cassian the Theologian, commonly referred to as ‘Kasyan’. It was generally believed that he brings a lot of misfortune. [6]

Leap Day Birthdate

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I have found one descendant of the Griffis family who was born on February 29th. Susannah Carpenter was born on the 29th February 1740 in Hardwick, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Susannah is my 5th great grand aunt. Her father, Nathan Carpenter is my great6 grandfather. The Carpenter branch of the family is connected to the Griffis family through William J. Griffis, the civil war veteran. William J. Griffis was Harold Griffis’ grandfather.

William Griffis married Amanda Carpenter.

The Carpenter family can be traced back to England. Susanna’s great3 grandfather, William, came from Amesbury, England.

When Susannah Carpenter was born on February 29, 1740, in Hardwick, Massachusetts, her father, Nathan, was 39, and her mother, Sarah, was 21. She married Abel Benjamin when she was 19 on March 22, 1759, in her hometown. They had four children in 15 years. She died on August 7, 1794, in Montague City, Massachusetts, at the age of 54.

The following will of Nathan Carpenter mentioned his daughter by married name as Susanna Benjamin.

Will and Probate Records of Nathan Carpenter [7]

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In 1740, Hardwick, Massachusetts, USA was a small rural town located in Worcester County. It was a time of significant growth and change in the American colonies, with settlers from various backgrounds establishing communities and shaping the landscape. Hardwick was no exception, with its own unique characteristics and challenges.

Leap Date Death Date

I did find one distant relative who passed away on leap day.

Celestia Regina Dutcher at age 76, passed away on February 29, 1916. The Dutcher branch of the family is connected to the Griffis family through Evelyn (Dutcher) Griffis, the wife of Harold Griffis.

Celestia Regina Dutcher was born on March 14, 1839, in New York. Her father, Peter Dutcher, was 38, and her mother, Desire, was also 38 when she was born. She married Edwin Robert Tripp on January 19, 1873, in Cherry Valley, New York. They had three children in 11 years. She was buried in Middlefield, New York.

Celestia is my first cousin four times removed. Her father is my great great great uncle.

Her father Peter had eleven children. Celestia was his seventh child, see Family tree below.

Family of Celestia Dutcher

Her father, Peter Dutcher had 10 brothers and sisters! One of those brothers was Marquis Dutcher. Marquis is my great great great grandfather. This is my family link to Celestia. Celestia’s father is my great great great uncle.

Marquis ALSO had a large family of thirteen children. One of his children, Ruleff Dutcher, is my great great grandfather. His son, Squire Dutcher, is Evelyn Dutcher’s father.

Family of Marquis Dutcher

Not much is known about Celestia. She spent most of her life in Otsego County New York. Her father was a farmer and her busband was a blacksmith.

At the age of four, Celestia was baptized in the First Presbyterian Church of Middlefield. [8]

Baptism of Celestia Dutcher

Celestia lived with her family into her early adulthood. At the age of 31, she is living with her parents on their farm in Middlefield, New York. The census taker however reported he age as 29.

1870 U.S. Federal Census 1870

Click for Larger View | U.S. Federal Census 1870, New York, Otswego County, Middlefield, Lines 25 – 29, Page 14

Celestia married Edwin Robert Tripp january 19th, 1873. She was 33 years old. Edwin had a child (Minnie) from a prior marriage. Celestia and Edwin had two children, Bertha Lulu Tripp (16 Feb 1875) and Byron Henry Tripp 2 April 1878).

1880 U.S. Federal Census

Click for Larger View | Source U.S. Federal Census 1880, New York, Otswego County, Middlefield Center, Page 26, Lines 3 – 7

Ten years later Celestia and Edwin are living with Bertha and their two grandchildren. While the census taker indicated that Bertha is married, her husband is not listed as a member of the household. [9] In 1904, her husband , who passed away. The following year it is reported that she is living with her son Byron, who works on a farm. [10]


[1] Intercalation or intercalary in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap dayweek, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “intercalation”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 Jun. 2006, https://www.britannica.com/science/intercalation

Intercalation (timekeeping), Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 29 February 2024, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercalation_(timekeeping)

February 29, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 29 February 2024 (of course it was edited on this day!), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_29

[2] Alex Cutler, Dayton Daily News, Feb 29, 2024, https://www.daytondailynews.com/what-to-know/being-born-on-leap-day-leads-to-special-attention-some-isolation-local-leaplings-say/36AKGYN6O5G2FHQ7WDBZSBOZB4/

[3] Rachel Treisman, Leap for joy! The creative ways NPR listeners are marking Feb. 29, National Public Radio, Feb 28, 2024, https://www.npr.org/2024/02/28/1232982450/celebrate-leap-day-2024

[4] George Bass, How the world’s leap-day customs took hold, from evil omens to true loveWashington Post, Feb 29, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2024/02/29/leap-day-superstitions-traditions-feb-29/

[5] Ibid

[6] Anna Popova, Feb 28, 2024, Why was it believed that February 29 brings bad luck?, Russia Beyond, https://www.rbth.com/lifestyle/337253-february-29-bad-omens ,

[7] Probate Records (Worcester County, Massachusetts); Index 1731-1881; Author: Massachusetts. Probate Court (Worcester County), Page 176-177

[8] Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, PA, USA; US, Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1907; Book Title: 1830-1954, Church Registers. Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, First Presbyterian Church, Middlefield Cente, Middlefield, N.Y. Page 146 – 147

[9] 1900 U.S Federal Census, New York, Otsego County, Middlefield Center, page 149, Lines 10-14

[10] 1905 New York State Census, Otsego County, Middlefield, Page 4, Lines 32-33

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