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Leap year 2020: How do leapers celebrate their birthday and how many people in the UK were born on February 29?


Today doesn’t come around very often…. (Picture: Getty)

Today is February 29, a day that only comes around every four years, on a leap year.

For some of us, the day fills us with puzzlement, raising questions such as: why do we have leap years?

Others just ponder whether or not they are entitled to an extra day on payroll. (you generally aren’t, by the way).

However, for one small subset of society, today is a rather special day.

That’s right – we’re talking about leapers or leaplings, those mythical people born on February 29, who only get to celebrate their true birthday every four years.

So, how many of them are there in the UK, and how do people tend to celebrate the day?

Great-great- grandmother Doris Cleife is 100 (or 25) today (Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

How many people in the UK were born today?

The number of leaplings in the UK is hard to determine, although according to statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 10,796 people have been born since 1995 on February 29.

This is an average of 1,788 per leap year, which ranks it the 243rd most common day to be born, in a given leap year.

Which, all things considered, is pretty rare.

According to the ONS website, December 25 is the least common birthday overall.

Suffice to say, February 29 is an uncommon birthday… (Picture: Getty)

How do leap year birthdays work and how do people celebrate?

Most people born on this day are lucky enough to have two ages and two birthdays. as many people opt to celebrate on the 28 Feb and 1 March as a trade-off for losing their actual birthday.

This unusual birthday also allows people to stay perpetually young, as most leapers cite their real age, as well as their leap year age.

Then of course, when leap years do come around, it’s an excuse to have a proper knees up.

Metro.co.uk spoke to 18 leapers who told us about their plans for the day, as well as any benefits or gripes that come with their unusual birthday.

The number in brackets denotes their leap year age.

Many leapers buy themselves a special gift on leap years (Picture: Getty)

Jo, mother of Caitlin, 12 (4)

‘My daughter is a leaper. She used to hate it and get upset when people said she was only one year old up until she was eight. Now she loves it and embraces the uniqueness of it. She’s frog obsessed and collects them and likes the attention it brings. We celebrate on the 28th of Feb usually but every leap year we make a massive fuss with a big party. This year, we are having a roller disco with all the decorations green and froggie.’

Elaine, 52 (13)

‘I remember as a tiny girl getting very upset when I couldn’t find my birthdate on the calendar so my dad told me to check through all the other months in case Feb 29 had been misplaced in one of those. It took this 4-year-old ages looking for her 5th birthday!’

Billy, 40 (10)

‘I’m having 20 family folk over on Friday, then having a big bash for 80 on Saturday in my local, then a big meal on Sunday. I very much milk it every four years ? Other years I celebrate on both days; you could say it’s milking it still!’

Jemma, 48 (12)

‘I usually celebrate on the 28th – my little brother was born on the 28th (of a leap year) and we love that we usually share a birthday but then every four years have our own birthdays! For my 10th I went to Antarctica which was just awesome!’

Today leapers can celebrate their true day of birth (Picture: Getty)

Heather, 56 (14)

‘I’m having my 14th official birthday on Saturday and I’m going to a friend’s wedding so it will be four years before she gets her first anniversary. I usually celebrate on the 28th Feb in non-leap years. I was 11 the same year my daughter turned 11!’

Catriona, 21 (7)

‘I normally celebrate on the 28th but it always spills into a two day celebration!
This year for my leap year birthday I’ve went to Tenerife for the week with family! I love to do something extra special on actual leap years.

‘My last leap year I went to Amsterdam for a long weekend with friends where I actually met my husband.’

Jeff, 40 (10)

‘I do a big celebration every four years, and on the three in between I celebrate on the 28th. On my [American] under 21’s license it said my birthday was March 1st so on the 28th that year we went to all the bars that knew me and got tons of free shots, and then the next day I went to all the bars that didn’t and got more free alcohol.

‘My ID card said in red letters (typical of all under 21 residents) “not 21 until March 1st”.’

Leanne, 44 (11)

‘I always celebrate in February and claim every weekend in Febuary for the non leap years! Looking forward to celebrating with family and friends this weekend! And every four years I buy myself a milestone present!

‘This year’s present? A house. [It’s a] very special day for two reasons. I’m a single mum so buying my own house was a big thing for me!’

Julie, 52 (13)

‘I’m off to Spain for my birthday.  I even have a birthday t-shirt made up for me!

‘When I was growing up our house was split on when my birthday should be, but I always thought it was February, not March. It will be my 13th birthday and most of my cards will reflect this. It’s the same every time I have an official birthday. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it.’

Some leapers celebrate with frog-related items (Picture: Getty)

Chloe, 32 (8)

‘On a non leap year I celebrate on the 28th. I don’t normally do anything big on leap year birthdays but when I turned five (20) I walked around my local pub wearing a five-year-old badge and told everyone I was five!’

Kevin, 36 (9)

‘I’m from Golspie, in the Scottish Highlands, we have a population of about 1300 people and six of us celebrate the same birthday. I’m 36 and nine on Saturday, going out for a meal with 20 friends.’

Kel, 40 (10)

‘I’m so excited to celebrate my big 10 this year. Last 29/2 I went to NYC and meet some other leapers there, we had a great time celebrating together. This year I’m going to Paris. I think as much older I get more excited about planning a special Birthday, it would be awesome to celebrate 20!’

Nikki, 32 (8)

‘I celebrate the 1st March but to be honest I reserve the whole week! This year is a 90s theme (first time I turned eight was 1996) party in a bar.’

Shawna, 48 (12)

‘I have a fraternal twin brother who is five minutes older than me and the greatest gift I have had was my daughter being born on my birthday. She is turning three in leap years.

‘Growing up, my brother and I couldn’t agree on birthday parties so I celebrated on Feb 28th and he would celebrate on March 1st. My daughter and I celebrate together and on non-birthdays, we stretch out the celebrations for an entire weekend.

‘I’m excited because my daughter and I will be turning 12 together this year!’

Many leapers celebrate all weekend (Picture: Getty)

Denny, 64 (16)

‘I have always celebrated on the 1st of March as I wasn’t born on the 28th but the day after. My husband tells me he only married me as he would only have to buy me a present every four years!’

Paul, 48 (12)

‘In non-leap years I celebrate my birthday on the 28th but I have spent my whole life defending this! I either have people saying I shouldn’t have a birthday or it should be on 1st March. I usually end up with two cards, one for real age and one for leap year age. Its definitely a talking point and people always ask “well how old are you really?”‘

Anna, whose daughter is turning 8 (2)

‘In a non-leap year, we usually have a party of the 28 with friends and 1 Mar with family. The U.K. and Hong Kong have some old laws that say you aren’t the next age until your birthday has passed – so in the U.K. it’s typically celebrated on the 1 March.’

Amy, 24 (6)

Amy shares a birthday with her mother, also born today, and the pair celebrated by going on a leap year cruise ship:

‘Yesterday we had our pictures taken with (most) of the other leap year babies on here… it was trippy! We used to try and have a day each, but people tend to wish us happy birthday at the same time, and usually over both the 28th & 1st.. so we just kind of have both. ‘

Leapers are also eternally young (Picture: Getty)

What celebrities have a birthday on February 29?

There are a few famous leapers among us too – rapper Ja Rule will turn 44 (11) today.

Rapper and songwriter Ja Rule was on February (Picture: Noam Galai/Getty Images for BudX)

Superman is also born on February 29 1938, a birthday befitting for the eternally young superhero.

Other celebrities born on February 29 include singer Dinah Shore, and American Olympic-medallist, Cullen Jones.

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MORE: Why do we have a leap year and when is the next one?





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