My disappearing birthday: What it is really like to have been born on a Leap Day.

I am 35, but have only had 8 birthdays in my entire life.


I came into the world on February 29th, and wouldn’t have it any other way. When you are born a leap day baby it automatically becomes a huge part of your identity whether you like it or not. The odds of being born this day are 1 in 1,461. People who know me often say that they can’t imagine me being born any other day given my unique person and my general opposition to normality. Sometimes I wonder if my rare birthday has helped shaped my personality. When your birthday is only on the calendar every four years, you automatically feel like a bit of a misfit.

When I was born my Mom said the hospital gave her the option of putting Feb 28th or March 1 on my birth certificate. She thankfully appreciated that my birthday was special and kept it accuarate. I didn’t really understand the concept of Leap Day until I was around seven years old. All I knew was that I couldn’t find my birthday on a calender and would cry about it. Being in school only compounded my confusion and anxiety. The teachers would always put out a big “birthdays this month” poster and each kid got a cupcake on their day. Usually mine wasn’t there for non leap years in Feb, and I didn’t get a cupcake. My Mom would call to complain and one would usually apologetically turn up a few days later. Still, taunting by the other kids in school made me feel embarrased about my rare birthday instead of feeling special like I should have. “You don’t have a real birthday! Haha! What are you one years old?” they would yell at me.

But this wasn’t the only phrase I would have to grow acustomed to hearing throughout my life. The reaction bingo card when someone finds out my birthday is Feb 29th looks like this-

  • “So what are you like 2!?” -This is where I have to fake laugh like I haven’t heard this 8 billion times.
  • “Whoa-so like-you basically never age.” -I wish, but if that were the case I wouldn’t be saving for botox.
  • “That is so cool. One time I met one other person met on a leap day. Do you know them?” -Yes, because we clearly must have a secret society similar to the Illuminati and all know each other.
  • “Today isn’t your real birthday.” -Heard on off years on the day I celebrate. No shit. But I am still getting a year older and am going to choose a day to party.
  • “I’ve never met anyone born on Feb 29th!” -Well here I am! Your personal unicorn sighting! We actually exist! Sorry, but I don’t have a pot of gold.
  • “When do you celebrate”-This is another one I have answered at least a half-million times.

So when do leap day babies celebrate? It really is a personal choice. There is a true 50/50 split between “Strict Februarians” and “Strict March 1” people among us rare leaplings. Some people celebrate for two days, because-why not?

I personally have always felt very strongly about celebrating Feb 28th because I was after all, born in February. I was also born around 3A.M. which is technially closer to Feb. 28th than March 1. But there is still something a bit meloncholy about not having my real birthday on the calender. Even though I am turning a year older it doesn’t feel the same.

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Aside from the often annoying questions, my birthday has led me to run into other technical difficulties in my adult life.

When a leap day baby turns 21 it is always an off year. But most bars in America will not let you actually drink until March 1. If you celebrate your birthday Feb 28th, there goes drinking the day you turn 21. Luckily, I spent my 21st birthday on international waters on a cruise ship so I avoided this problem.

Speaking of bars, I have gotten some strange looks in my life when bouncers or bartenders check my ID. Do they really think if I was going to go through the effort to get a fake ID I would get one with such an obvious date? Now that i’m in my mid-thirties this is sadly less of a problem.

When making Dr’s appointments giving your birthday is a neccessity. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have told a receptionist the date and they repeat back to me “You mean Feb. 28th?”, as if I don’t know the date of my own birthday. “No, FEBRUARY 29TH” i’ll repeat. Sometimes there is a moment of silence while they try to input it into their system. Following this they usually have one of the above bingo reactions.

Entering my birthdate online is an issue I constantly run into. Many systems will not give you the option to put in Feb 29th unless you enter in the year first. Some systems don’t pull it up at all and tell you the date is “invalid.”

Facebook does let you enter your birthday as Feb. 29th, but on off years it picks whatever day it feels like to show your friends. This often leads to me getting Birthday wishes on March 1 from people who think it is my actual birthday.

Most birthday clubs will completely skip sending you birthday freebies or coupons on off years because of their computer systems.

Through all of the minor issues surrounding my birthday, I am still extremely proud to say that I am a leap day baby and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It makes me feel like I was born just a touch more unique then people with a normal birthday. Over the years, i’ve had fun throwing kid themed birthday parties for my 6th on 24, 7th on 28, 8th on 32 and as February 2020 rolls around am very excited to finally celebrate my 9th actual birthday.