leap year birthdays birthday party

10 Leap Year Birthday Celebration Ideas for Leaplings, Leapers, and Leapsters

Every birthday is worthy of being celebrated, but a leap year birthday deserves extra special attention. That’s because there is a 1 in 1,461 chance that an individual will be born on Feb. 29. So when you or someone you know has a birthday on that day — and it actually appears on the calendar — it’s even more important to make a big deal of it.

But before we share ideas about how to celebrate, let’s find out more about how leap years came to be and why they are still necessary. (Spoiler: It has to do with the Earth’s orbit around the sun and a fraction of a day.)

History of leap years

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Thank goodness for people who pay attention to the details. While the rest of us roll through our lives content in the knowledge there are 365 days in a year, the fact is it takes 365.242190 days for Earth to orbit the sun, and that overage amounts to an additional five hours, 45 minutes, and change. Over the course of time, that fraction of a day matters — so much so that if wasn’t somehow accounted for, it would disrupt the timing of our seasons.

Some ancient calendars tracked both lunar and sun cycles, and the difference between the two tracking systems amounted to 11 days. To account for this time, the ancients added extra months to their calendars, known as interstitial months. Feeling this was too hard a system to manage, Julius Caesar did the math in 46 BCE and figured that adding an extra day to the calendar every four years would balance it out.

All was fine until 1582 AD, when it was discovered that the addition of a day every four years over the course of centuries resulted in an overage of 10 days. (Does your brain hurt yet? Mine does.)

Fortunately, Pope Gregory XIII found that by adding an extra day to the calendar in years evenly divided by four, and only in century years evenly divided by 400, all would be right in the universe once again. This became the Gregorian calendar, with Feb. 29 designated as the official leap year date.

Leaplings, leapers, and leapsters

Leap year babies — of which there are only about 5 million in a world populated by nearly 8 billion people — are known alternatively as leapers, leaplings, and leapsters. Bobbie Hoehner, who runs her family’s business The Healing Lounge at Get Tanked in Hinesville, Georgia, is one such leapling — and she wasn’t the only one in her family.

“My great uncle and my aunt also had leap year birthdays, so I always had someone to celebrate with,” Hoehner says. On non-leap years, she celebrates her birthday on Feb. 28. “In the leap year community, there is debate over which day we should celebrate. Some celebrate on the 28th, some celebrate on March 1st. But 28 plus 1 equals 29, so we generally think we get to celebrate both.”

When I turned 24, we did a clown-themed birthday party for a 6-year-old. When I turned 40, we did a superhero party suitable for a 10-year-old.”

Bobbie Hoehner, owner of The Healing Lounge at Get Tanked Float Center

Hoehner says that being a leapling is also fun because she gets to celebrate being two ages. On leap year birthdays, she celebrates with a theme that corresponds to her leap year age. “When I turned 24, we did a clown-themed birthday party for a 6-year-old. When I turned 40, we did a superhero party suitable for a 10-year-old,” she says.  

As fun as it may be for some, being a leap year baby can have its challenges, says leapling Rae Clapper, innkeeper at Apple’s Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear Lake, California. Once when she was on a cross-country trip, an encounter with a local sheriff resulted in a misunderstanding. “The sheriff asked for my license. When he came back, he said it was invalid due to my birthdate,” Clapper says. “I had to explain I was a leap year baby and even Googled it to show him! He cleared me and apologized.”

10 ways to celebrate a leap year birthday

Here are 10 ways to celebrate the rare and special occasion of a leap year birthday.

1. Treat yourself to something sweet

Regular birthdays are for cake. Leap year birthdays are for something distinctly more special, such as artisan chocolate-covered strawberries or dipped cheesecake bites (or both!).

leap year birthday artisan dipped strawberries
leap year birthday birthday cake martini

2. Shake up a leap year cocktail

Get your mixologist on with a personalized cocktail shaker set and recipe created on Feb. 29, 1928, at the historic Savoy Hotel in London.

3. Attend a leap year event

Check out your community’s events calendar or take trip to the Leap Year Festival in Anthony, Texas — the self-proclaimed leap year capital of the world.

4. Join an online leap day community

Get to know leapers just like you. The Honor Society for Leap Year Day Babies is a great place to network on all things leap year.

5. Host a themed soiree

In 2020, Clapper threw herself a “Purple Rain”/Prince-themed party. “I hired a Prince band named the Purple Ones and went all out,” she says. “It was awesome — everyone wore purple.” Don’t forget to have plenty of gourmet food and drinks on hand.

6. Take an overnight holiday

Some leapsters enjoy a two-day leap day birthday celebration, so why not take the opportunity to enjoy an overnight trip. Enjoy two or three days at a special resort or spa to commemorate the occasion.

7. Treat yourself to a spa day

If heading out of town isn’t feasible, pamper yourself with a luxury spa day at home, or host one for you and your closest friends.

leap year birthday spa day
leap year birthday unicorn birthday

8. Throw a leap year age party

Take a page out of Hoehner’s book and have a party with a theme that corresponds to your leap year age. Frogs are big in the leap year community, of course, or choose a special symbol or character that you loved growing up, such as unicorns or Mickey Mouse.

9. Give yourself a gift that gives back

Buy local, handmade items from sellers in your community or find an organization that contributes to a worthy cause when you make a purchase from it.

10. Sign up for a monthly gift club

Flowers, food, wine…whatever your pleasure, there’s a gift subscription that can have it delivered to your door. Until your next leap day birthday!

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