What's It Like to Only Have A Birthday Once Every Four Years?: 8 Leap Babies Tell Their Stories

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Every four years, Feb. 29 happens, prolonging the ordinarily 28-day month. These leap years – 2016 included – have an extra day in order to keep our clocks and calendars in sync. (We’ll spare you the detailed mathematics of why.)

The chances of being born on a leap day are 1 in 1,461; leap babies’ true birthday land just once every four years. Here’s what that’s like, according to the (grown) leap babies themselves:

“Most people were shocked, they have never met someone born on leap year. You instantly feel special, and no one ever forgets your birthday. On years where I don’t have an ‘actual’ birthday I tend to celebrate both Feb. 28 and March 1. Wouldn’t you?! When people find out I was born on a leap day, they say things like: ‘I’ve never met someone who was born on leap year,’ and, ‘Wait, but like, how do you not have a birthday?’ or my personal favorite, ‘So like you’re 4!’ No, I’m turning 8, thank you. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being different. It’s also always a great conversation topic.”
– Cullen Jones, to PEOPLE

“Growing up with a birthday on a leap year was the best. I was a state department brat, and so during all of those icebreakers for new kids, they would ask me to say something interesting about myself, and I always had a cool go-to. I still use it to this day! It was always fun to tell people that my birthday didn’t always exist, and then having a big, awesome party on the actual day of the birthday. It always brought up interesting conversations about when I should celebrate: Should I celebrate on March 1 since technically it’s not the 28th, so it must be March, or, should I celebrate Feb. 28 because it’s technically the last day of the month? I always celebrate Feb. 28 because, incidentally, my sister is March 9: we couldn’t have two March babies in the house!”
– Jessie Marie, to PEOPLE

“I love my birthday. It’s an ‘anything goes’ type day. I may have intentions to do one thing and then end up doing something totally different. When you’re a kid, you see kids who have other things that you don’t, and it singles you out. Since I’ve gotten older, I have more fun to make up for.”
– Sherri Riddle, to CNN

“The best way to explain how I celebrate my birthday is to first describe how I normally don’t celebrate it. For three-fourths of my life, I get a two-day window from Feb. 28 to March 1 for friends and family to wish me a happy birthday. To this day, no one can really agree on what day it should be.”
– Jacob Jacob, to CNN

“I love having this birthday. It makes me unique and gives me a chance to tell a funny story about when I was in college. The year I turned 21 was not a leap year. When I went to one of the local bars in my college community around 9 p.m., the bouncer would not let me in until March 1. Looking back on it, of course, going to a bar on Feb. 28 is not acceptable because it is before Feb. 29. At the time though, I didn’t give it much thought because I was excited to have my first drink, and at the time, Feb. 28 fell on a Saturday. Ever since that experience, on non-leap years, I celebrate my birthday on Feb. 28 and March 1.”
– Leanne Trdinich, to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“People tend to remember your birthday when you’re born on Feb. 29 because it is unique, so leap years usually bring even more greetings. The year I turned 6/24, a friend saw all of my birthday cards and said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of birthday cards. I’m lucky if I get one, and that’s if my Mom remembers!’ ”
– Nellie Parke, to Today

“It’s really cool that out of all the days of the year, I was born on Feb. 29. I would definitely not be born on any other day if I had the choice. It comes up a lot in class that my birthday is Feb. 29, and people think it’s cool. [When I turned 8], that was the second time I really had my birthday. We usually just celebrated it on the 28th, and I kind of assumed it was my birthday.”
– Natasha Youssef, to the Chicago Tribune

“I celebrate on the 28th because I feel I’d rather celebrate my birthday in the actual month I was born in. Everybody’s like, ‘Wait, you’re how old?’ That’s always the first question I get asked. I actually got asked once if I was able to get a driver’s license when I turn 16, considering I’m only four.”
– Cassandra Galbraith, to Ottawa Community News

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