Nfld. & Labrador

For these leap year babies, today is the Olympics and they're all winning gold

The 29th day of February comes only once every four years, and this year is one of those extra-special ones for leap year babies celebrating in style in the St. John's area.

Their birthday comes but once every four years, and they make the most of it

Sienna Knight was treated to a special birthday fit for a three-year-old on Friday at her school, Brookside Intermediate Friday in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

They're rare — not a surprise, considering the 29th day of February comes only once every four years. 

It takes special circumstances for the stars to align just so for them to enter the world.

And they know it. 

"It's kinda like the Olympics — it only comes every four years so you might as well make a big deal out of it!" leap baby Julie Meyers said of her big day. 

Meyers is one of at least two leap year babies relishing the opportunity to celebrate her real birthday in 2020 in the St. John's area. 

"I'm currently eight, and I turn nine tomorrow," laughed the married mother of two. 

She said being born Feb. 29 is "a funny topic to bring up with people, and it's actually a good icebreaker … because people always have questions."

Pick a day, any day

Yeah, like how do you even have a birthday for the three out of four years it doesn't even exist on the calendar? 

"I prefer to celebrate it on the 28th of February because I feel like a February baby," said Meyers, who found the term for people like her online: "Februarian."

Julie Meyers celebrating her fake birthday in St. John's on the 28th of February one year. (Submitted by Julie Meyers)

But it's not all fun and games being the victim of the leap year's effort to synchronize the calendar year with the time it takes the earth to complete its orbit around the sun.

Meyers said some people get angry about her arbitrary birthday celebrations in non-leap years, saying, "'You weren't born on the 28th, so how can you celebrate it today?' And I guess my response is just, 'Well, I don't get a birthday, so I can pick what I want.'"

To mark this one, Meyers has a tea party in the morning as a joint birthday celebration with her daughter, who was born two years ago on Feb. 27. After that, she and her girlfriends are "gonna kinda have a real nine-year-old party and go swimming at the hotel and have lunch," followed by a "more adult" party in the evening with cocktails. 

Justin and Julie Meyers celebrated her last proper birthday on Feb. 29, 2016, in Norway. (Submitted by Julie Meyers)

And she has a message to anyone who has a beef with the estimated four million leap babies worldwide.

"Just be kind to those who don't have a birthday every year, and let us celebrate when we want to celebrate!"

Who gets a birthday party during school?

The students in Sienna Knight's combined Grade 5 and 6 French immersion class at Brookside Intermediate in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's could teach a lesson or two on kindness. 

Sienna and her classmates at Brookside Intermediate have a dance party on Friday. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Under the direction of teacher Sam Paterson, they threw a very special "third" birthday party for Sienna at school on Friday, who said it seemed like a fun opportunity.

"It's a nice chance to get the kids' attention. You tie it into a whole ton of different things in their curriculum, and get them engaged, bringing in things from home, and celebrating one of their classmates, that kind of thing," he said. 

Brookside Intermediate teacher Sam Paterson says the special birthday party for Sienna, who was born on Feb. 29, 2008, incorporated curriculum as well. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Sienna said it "feels really cool" to have the party, with classmates sharing the things they loved at age three (American Dolls were hers) and a real live three-year-old coming in. 

"Some people don't understand it, and they're like really confused when I tell them my birthday is February 29th, and sometimes it's really annoying because it's not on the calendar so I can't like circle my birthday on the calendar. But when it is my birthday it feels really special," said Knight.

Sienna's classmates knew just how to throw her a party for for a three-year-old, even if she is turning 12 on Saturday. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

So she's celebrating this very special one with "a sleepover at a hotel and a party bus" with all of her friends. 

Unlike Meyers, Sienna celebrates on Mar. 1.

"If I did celebrate it on February 28th I wouldn't have been born yet." 

One can see where the controversy comes in. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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