Leap Day Birthday: What it’s like having a birthday every four years

Today is Leap Day!

Jillian Sturgill, who turns eight this Leap Day! (Jillian Sturgill.)

Jillian Sturgill gets a little twinkle in her eye when someone asks her how old she is. She’s physically 32, but she tells strangers that she’s only eight. They will immediately look confused until she revels that she was born on Leap Day, so she’s only celebrated on her actual birthday seven times since being born.

2024 is another Leap Year, so that means Sturgill, along with others who were born on Feb. 29, will finally get the chance to celebrate their birthdays on the day they were actually born.

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To us, it may not seem like a big deal, but to someone like Sturgill, who only gets to do this every four years, it’s exciting and fun.

We asked Sturgill some questions, from what it’s like to tell people you’re barely 10 years old, to her favorite Leap Year birthday from years past.

Q: First things first...when do you normally celebrate your birthday?

Sturgill: I celebrate on the 28th because my birthday is still in February. Most people think I’d celebrate on March 1st, but I celebrate in February because it’s still my birth month, even if it’s a day before. Also -- this is kind of a fun fact -- but my license says that I turned 21 at midnight of February 27th, so I turned 21 on the 28th of February.

Q: Do you remember at some point in your childhood that your birthday was kind of different? When did you realize you had a Leap Day birthday?

Sturgill: I knew it was different pretty early on, because my mom would try and compensate for my birthday not existing. The day wasn’t there, so when you’re little it’s really hard to comprehend that. So we’d do my birthday with friends on the 28th, and then celebrate with family the next day. My mom made it special by celebrating twice.

Q: Do you have any memories when you got to celebrate on Leap Day?

Sturgill: Well the theme for parties with my friends was always frogs, which I loved. But one year when it was Leap Day, my mom took my entire class from school on a giant bus to go rock climbing and had a pizza party. It was such a fun birthday. The one Leap Day birthday I celebrated in college was pretty crazy, too. All my friends got really into it.

Q: Now that you are in your 30s, what are your feelings towards celebrating Leap Day? Is it exciting, or are you kind of over the whole thing?

Sturgill: Now that I understand it all, it’s more fun. My friends get excited about it, too.

Q: I know that you’re turning 32, but it’s only your eighth time celebrating on your actual birthday. Do you ever say you are eight?

Sturgill: Oh, all the time. You know, I just realized that 32 years from now I will be 64, and I will finally get to have my Sweet 16. So I know when I turn 64 I will have a giant party. It’s going to be a big Sweet 16 party.

Q: What’s something that people always ask you when they find out you were born on Leap Day?

Sturgill: They always ask what day I celebrate my birthday. It never fails.

Q: Do you wish you had a normal birthday like everyone else?

Sturgill: When I was little I didn’t like it all the time. I’d sometimes get teased in elementary school and kids would say I was only two or three years old, so I couldn’t play soccer with them, or something dumb like that. But now I love it. It makes me unique. Not that many people get to say they have a Leap Day birthday.

Q: I know that every four years we have a Leap Day, but was there a way you would remember it growing up?

Sturgill: Honestly I still use this trick, but Leap Years are always the same as election years. So I remember it that way.

Q: Lastly, have you had any weird experiences because of your birthday being on Leap Day? Like a bouncer thinking your ID was fake when going to a bar or something?

Sturgill: Oh, that happened a lot when I was 21. I also had immigration in Europe almost detain me because they thought my passport was fake with the Feb. 29 date on it. It was like they forgot Leap Day was a thing.

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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