Leaper Couple
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What’s the deal with Leap Year? It’s the calendar catching up

Jameson Dague and Amanda Dickman got engaged in September 2019 while visiting Michigan City, Ind. Their wedding is planned for Leap Day 2020. (Provided photo)

Every four years, we ask a collective question: “What the heck is a Leap Year?”

The question comes up again in 2020, with this February comprising 29 days instead of the usual 28. (Remember the old rhyme?)

Basically, the Earth’s actual trip around the sun — a duration known as the “solar” or “tropical” year — actually takes 365.242190 days, but that’s a number impossible to divide evenly into one of our calendar years. 

Our Gregorian calendar year comprises 365 days, and the system has a built-in device to compensate for that fraction of time from the solar year that we essentially ignore. That device builds one additional day into the annual calendar every four years. These are Leap Years.

Leap Years let us take advantage of a nice, tidy 365-day calendar while keeping our holidays, business and lives aligned with the seasons. Without Leap Years, Christmas could really end up in July.

Taking the leap on Leap Day
Amanda Dickman and Jameson Dague only got engaged five months ago, and the Homewood couple’s wedding is scheduled for Feb. 29, 2020. 

Jameson Dague and Amanda Dickman got engaged in September 2019 while visiting Michigan City, Ind. Their wedding is planned for Leap Day 2020. (Provided photo)

Typically, couples take a year or more to make plans for their big day. After Dague popped the question in September, however, the couple pinpointed Leap Day as perfect and decided to arrange things quickly to meet the date.

“We just started talking about dates, like, ‘If you could pick any day in the whole year, why not pick a really fun day?’” Dickman said. “I saw that Leap Day is on a Saturday this year and we decided to go for it.”

Their parents didn’t mind the slightly hasty timeline, she said, and friends and family are pitching in to make the day great. 

Dickman, who attended Marian Catholic High School, met Dague, who went to H-F High School, in their teen years when they played in a wiffle ball league.

Now she’s a registered nurse working in trauma surgery at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn. He works in customer support and marketing for Home Chef, a food-delivery service based in Chicago.

Since their anniversary date will only come up every four years, Dickman said they’ll celebrate annually on Feb. 28 and then do something special every Leap Year.

“We really wanted to get married on Leap Day,” Dickman said. “I just think it’s fun and quirky.”

It’s his birthday!
As he tells it, Steven Lohmann’s mother didn’t want him to be born on Leap Day. She started getting nervous as she past her due date by nearly two weeks.

Steven Lohmann will be marking his Feb. 29 birthday with friends at C2E2. (Provided photo)

When Lohmann arrived, it was nine minutes past midnight on Feb. 29, 1984.

Now Lohmann, a Glenwood resident, is 36 — or 9, depending on how you count the years of his Leap Day birthday. 

“It’s a unique thing about me. It’s something I don’t share with anyone else I know,” Lohmann said. 

Sometimes his unusual birthday causes small inconveniences, though Lohmann still finds them vexing.

“A lot of times when I’m registering for something online, and they ask for the birthdate, it will say that’s not a valid date. If they don’t let me bypass it, I just say Feb. 28 or March 1,” Lohmann said. “You would think they’d have that programmed in by now, but some of them don’t.”

Every four years on his “actual” birthday, Lohmann treats himself. This year he’ll head to Chicago with friends on that day to enjoy C2E2, the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

People often get a kick out of his unusual birthday, and even make Lohmann prove the date by showing his driver’s license.

“It’s a conversation piece, at least for a few minutes when I first tell someone,” he said.

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