American actor Dennis Farina, who plays the role of an elderly policeman in the series Law & Order, is turning 17 years old today, February 29. In actuality, he is 68. But, like all other “leaplings” or “leapers”, he celebrates his birthday on his birth date only every four years.
Locally, 23-year-old flyweight boxer Milan Melindo will turn six (or 24), 56-year old theater director Freddie Santos will be 14 (or 56), and the late actor Johnny Delgado would have been 16 (or 64) this year. They join approximately five million other leaplings turn a year older.
Leaplings are certainly unique but they might not consider themselves lucky when they have to fill up forms and deal with computer programs that cannot or will not recognize February 29 as a real birth date. People who want to place a reminder in their calendar won’t find a slot for February 29 until 2016. Renewing licenses can also be a problem on non-leap years just because February 29th does not exist.
Nonetheless, leaplings can truthfully claim to be younger than others born on a regular day since they only “officially” celebrate their birthdays every four years, along with the 10,000 members of the online group Royal Society of Leap Year babies.
On non-leap years, leaplings celebrate their birthdays on February 28th or March 1st. Some unfortunate leaplings have parents who insist on celebrating only every four years since that is their actual birthday. Legally, China recognizes February 28th as the official birthday of leaplings, while selected states in the United States and Hong Kong consider March 1st as their real birthday.
Famous leaplings in the world include Pope Paul III (the last Renaissance pope), Italian-born actor Antonio Sabato, Jr., and rapper Ja Rule.
Is your child a leapling? How do you celebrate their birthdays? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below.