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Sonal Soni Headshot

Leap Year Birthday: 'What Day Do You Celebrate?'

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Alamy
Alamy

"So what day do you celebrate?" is invariably one of the first questions I get asked whenever I inform someone that I am a leap day baby. The answer to that question for me has always been: "Whenever I want." Being born on February 29 has definitely had its advantages, one of them being that I'm free to choose my birthday in non-leap years. In fact, in non leap-years I have a sense that my birthday is a combination of both February 28 and March 1; February 28 because it is my birthday month and March 1 because I recognize that had it not been a leap year, it would have been the date of my birth. But why choose just one day when you can have a two-day celebration with people wishing you 'happy birthday' over an extended period of time?

When I feel like having some fun, I get to answer the question of how old are you with a bit of a twist. Having a birthday once every four years, I can answer that question in leap day birthdays, giving a number ¼ of my actual age (for instance, turning 36 this year, I will actually be turning 9). I love watching others puzzle over the answer to the question that does not seem to match my physical age. It brings great glee particularly to the nieces in my life, one of whom noted that she will soon be older than me.

Rarely have I encountered difficulties due to my birthday. Occasionally, a computer website that asks for birthdays has forgotten to include the 29th of February as a possibility, but even that has been few and far between. In short, being a leap day baby, contrary to what some might suspect, has been a source of specialness and pleasure for me. I have felt lucky to have my birthday on a day that brings balance to the calendar and the marking of time.