In leap-year twist, father and son turn 10

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Chris Schmitt of Jasper and his son, Evan, 9, pose for a portrait in Jasper on Wednesday. Chris, born on Leap Day in 1980, and Evan both turn 10 within a week of one another.


JASPER — Here’s a riddle for you. Next week, a boy will celebrate his 10th birthday, making him the same age as his father. How is this possible?

Answer: The magic of Leap Day, a Gregorian calendar correction that only pops up once every four years. It will make its quadrennial appearance on Saturday, marking the 10th time that Chris Schmitt, 39, of Jasper has celebrated his birthday on the actual day he was born. His son, Evan, was born on March 4, 2010.

That means in one way, both father and son turn 10 within the same week.

“If they tell you [to] act your age, I’ve got a pass,” Chris joked. “That one doesn’t work on me.”

He has heard it all. From friends ragging that “you’re not gonna get a birthday” on non-leap years, to others joking they don’t need to buy him gifts unless February has 29 days. But he is an easygoing, fun-loving man, and he’s a good sport about all the ribbing.

Even Evan took a shot at him when the two sat down for an interview on Wednesday.

“It’s weird,” Evan said with a smile when talking about his dad’s date of birth. “I mean, you don’t have that many birthdays.”

On common years, Chris celebrates with family and friends on either Feb. 28 or March 1. This year, however, will be different. He and his wife, Abby, are flying out for a special weekend in Las Vegas.

Leap Day occurs every four years to account for the fact that a true solar year — one rotation around the sun — is longer than 365 days by a little less than six hours. The fact that Leap Day is added to February is a holdover from the Julian calendar used by the Romans.

According to the History Channel, only about five million people worldwide were born on Leap Day, and the odds of being born on Feb. 29 are about one in 1,461.

Chris and Evan share a strong relationship. They are both easygoing, like sports and enjoying spending time with each other outside. The Schmitts hunt, fish and play video games together, and Dad said the secret to their tight bond stems from all the time they spend with each other.

Evan likes that Chris is nice, plays sports with him and is always there to help him out. When he grows up, he wants to be like him.

The family lives in Jasper, and Chris and Abby also have another child, Aiden, 6.

In 2021, Chris and Evan will pass another milestone.

“Next year, you’re gonna be older than me,” Chris told Evan with a smile. “You know that, right?”

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