5 Things You Only Know If Your Birthday’s On A Leap Year

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Leap Year

by Coco Khan |
Updated on

Leaplings (or leapers) are babies born on this most rare of days – the 29th February. It’s a date that has captured the imagination of people for centuries, an upside-down day where anything can happen; it’s a day where women can ask men to marry them, unless of course you’re in Greece where it’s extremely unlucky to do anything even vaguely romantic on a leap day. These days, the 29th is still lucky for some and unlucky for others – especially, as I have come to know personally, you actually are a leaper. Sure, it’s pretty awesome to have been born against the odds (1 in 1461 chance to be precise) and yeah, there’s definitely a certain magic to having a birthday that starts a conversation, but it sure can be a drag...

1. Computers cannot compute your birth

While the world went into meltdown over the millennium bug, wondering if life machines would turn off and planes fall down from the sky, another date related computer glitch was already in full swing. For a long time, even the most sophisticated of computer systems didn’t recognise a leap day, autocorrecting to the 28th Feb. It took months for me to change my first driving license which stated a 28th. That was not so much fun at customs when, asked to show some further I.D, it didn’t match my passport. After all, nothing says happy birthday like your first strip search.

2. You can’t receive a birthday card in the post

Ah, that moment when you, as a bright-eyed child, run down the stairs to find on your doormat a pile of, well, nothing. At least, that was the story until 2008 when a number of leapers applied pressure to Toys ‘R’ Us to force them into fixing their delivery service which simply didn’t recognise a 29th Feb birthday. For some independent online stores it’s still an issue today.

3. You may have special powers

Nothing turns an astrologer on more than a crazy rare day that exists because of mad stuff the stars do. Like evangelical priests, astrologists can always be found each leap day making predictions of greatness or doom, your special role within it and the unquenchable power within. No pressure then…

4. Everyone tells you you’re actually a child

Whether they embrace it or despise it, ask any leapling and they’ll tell you the same thing – everyone always asks ‘so how old are you really?’ If division isn’t your thing, it’s your age divided by four, meaning you’ll be lucky to make it to 25 and that most of your adult life you’re actually a kid. For some it’s patronising - think back to your teenage years and imagine the grown-ups in your life telling you at 15 you’re still a ‘baby’; but if for your 40th you want to have a party in McDonalds with hard milkshakes and a playlist of Whigfield and Gina G, it’s truly a blessing.

5. Facebook can’t decide when your birthday is

Competing with ‘how old are you really?’ for most asked leapling question is ‘so what day do you celebrate it on?’. Some will say it just has to be the last day of Feb while others will push for March 1st arguing ferociously that it’s not really a birthday unless you were alive precisely on that day however many years ago. Given that we as humans still aren’t sure when a leaper has a birthday, or if they get one at all, it’s probably no surprise that Facebook hasn’t got a solution either. These days, on a non-leap year it’ll go for the 28th but previously it has listed on both days, and some years not at all.

So remember, if you depend on Facebook to tell you when your nearest and dearest are having a birthday, check yourself – you might be neglecting a leapling in your life.


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