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Feb. 29 brings special time for 'leap day babies'

People born on Feb. 29 only see their birthday on the calendar once every four years. Some believe that makes the occasion more special.

So-called 'leaplings" get kids' birthday cards, but also freebies, for uncommon birthdate

As a 'leap day baby,' Rebecca Wynn often gets children's birthday cards. (Blair Sanderson/CBC)

Rebecca Wynn gets a lot of children's birthday cards. Even though she's 28 years old.

That's because while she's been alive for 28 years, her actual birthday has only come around on the calendar seven times — because she was born on Feb. 29, 1988.

Wynn said people are often surprised when she tells them she was born on a leap day.

"You'll see people and they'll kind of think about it for a sec, and then they'll be like, 'OK, I've never met one of you guys before,'" she said.

Every four years, we add an extra day to February because the Earth actually travels around the sun once every 365.24 days.

But apart from being a good icebreaker at parties, Wynn doesn't give a lot of thought to her special status. In non-leap years, she celebrates her birthday on Feb. 28.

What a difference a day makes

When Wynn turned 19 — the legal drinking age in her home province of Nova Scotia — she went to celebrate with a drink at a restaurant on Feb. 28, since there was no Feb. 29 that year. But there was a problem.

"The waiter kind of looked, and he carded us all and he looked at my ID… and the manager was like, 'I've never had to deal with this before, I really have no idea, but technically you're not 19 so we can't really give you a drink.'"

Wynn also pointed out that people born on leap days can't have a "Champagne birthday." That's when your age matches the date of your birth. But because 29 is not divisible by four, leap day babies always turn 29 during non-leap years. 

There are some upsides to being a leap day baby, Peter Brouwer said. He's the co-founder of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.

Adam Young says his leap day birthday is 'just another little quirk.' (Twitter)
"There's so many promotions for leap day now — we get a new one in our in box every day. Free this, free that, free meal, free lunch, free attractions. The list is endless," he said.

And Brouwer, who lives in Vancouver, believes leap day babies often have extra passion for the joy of life and feel younger than their age.

"We don't come to our birthday with 'Holy, where did that year go?' By the time our birthday comes around, we've forgotten the last one long ago."

Just another day

Not everyone thinks being a leap day baby is all that special.

Adam Young is a fraternal twin born on Feb. 29, 1980.

"For us it's just become just another little quirk, you know? It's something we didn't really have any control over," he said.

"This is just something we've lived with since we were born."

About the Author

Blair Sanderson is an award-winning nationally syndicated current affairs reporter for CBC Radio. He's based in Halifax, where he's worked for 10 years. Contact blair.sanderson@cbc.ca

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