Sophomore Vedika Gupta isn’t sure what age she’s turning this year.
The marketing major from India is a leapling, meaning her birthday falls on February 29, a date that only occurs every four years.
“Technically I’m turning five, but also 20,” Gupta said. “So I think I’m turning five and 20.”
Although she isn’t sure how to describe her age, Gupta finds joy and takes pride in her leapling status.
“Every time I would introduce myself to someone, they would think it was interesting that I had a leap year birthday,” she said. “That’s always exciting for me.”
Gupta said most people know the general idea of what a leap year is, although they don’t always know why it occurs.
Miami University physics professor Jennifer Blue explained that the Earth takes 365.25 days to revolve around the sun. However, if every year had 365 days in it, the seasons on Earth would move around too much.
“If we want March 21 to be the first day of spring, then every four years we have to add an extra day to the calendar,” Blue said.
Therefore, during a leap year, an extra day is added to make the year 366 days long. Leap years happen every four years, meaning leaplings have fewer birthdays than their actual age.
Growing up as a leapling, Gupta would have a big party every four years to celebrate when she had an actual birthday on the 29th.
At home in India, Gupta’s birthday is an all-day event.
“Last time it was a leap year birthday,” she said. “My morning started with bouquets and cakes being delivered to my house from my friends and family members.”
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Later, in the evening, Gupta’s friends and family would come over, honoring the event with a party of nearly 200 people.
Gupta’s family would rent out a banquet hall where all of the family members could meet and celebrate her. A couple of friends made her handmade gift boxes for her and they shared a three-tiered cake.
However, on non-leap year birthdays, Gupta has never wanted to have a large party. She explained that her parents wouldn’t mind celebrating with a big party, but to Gupta, it just didn’t feel as special. Instead, she would rather have her close friends come over for a smaller gathering and then go out to eat.
To Gupta, it felt more natural to celebrate her birthday on February 28, rather than March 1, because her birthday is in February. Plus, her aunt’s birthday falls on the first and Gupta doesn’t want to take away from her aunt’s day.
Since Gupta is not home to celebrate her birthday with her family, she isn’t sure how she wants to celebrate this year.
She is considering a trip to Brick Street or Hueston Woods, but hasn’t made any final decisions. Hopefully, if she chooses Brick Street, the bouncers will let her in; after all, she’s only turning five.