Đinh Vũ Bảo Hoa
HÀ NỘI — Less than 0.07 percent of the entire global population will celebrate their birthdays today.
That’s because February 29 only comes around once every four years.
Leap years occur to help synchronise the calendar year with the solar year because it takes the earth 365 and one quarter days to orbit the sun.
So to keep in sync with the solar system, one extra day is added to the calendar every four years, and that day is today.
It is estimated that between four and five million people around the world will celebrate their official birthdays today.
For someone turning 40, they are actually only 10 years old, however most people born on a leap day normally celebrate their birthdays on March 1 or February 28.
Nguyễn Thị Thơm Thơm
Teacher Nguyễn Thị Thơm Thơm, 40, has good memories of a childhood growing up a little differently to all her friends.
“Since I was a little girl, I have always been proud of being born as a leap year baby, and a lot of people say that it’s special to be born on such a day. I feel very happy, special, and kind of unique.
“I’m 40 years old, but I consider myself to be 10, and even my children at home, they say ‘mum, you are the youngest now. You’re only 10. We are much older than you,’ so I think it’s fun and I love it.”
Thơm, from Hà Nội, even uses her uniqueness to help her teach children.
“Sometimes when I introduce myself to students at the beginning of the year, they try to guess my age,” she said.
“Sometimes they say something like ‘oh, you’re about 30. You are about 40,’ and I say ‘oh, no. I am much younger than that,’ and sometimes, they try to guess like 25. I say ‘no! Still much younger,’ and they ask me to give a hint, and I say ‘I am nearly 10.’
“Sometimes, I feel very young at heart.”
Nguyễn Đình Hùng is today 24-years-old, although in reality, he has only had six official birthdays.
Hùng, who works in marketing, says he still gets teased today about his actual age.
Nguyễn Đình Hùng
“When I was little, even when my parents said I didn’t have my birthday that year, they still threw a party for me on the 28th. I still thought of it as my birthday, because as long as I got to celebrate it with my family, I was happy.”
“When I was in elementary school, secondary school, high school or college, every one of my classmates remembered my birthday, because it’s a special day.
“I also got teased a lot, like ‘you’re such a kid’. Since I only have a birthday every four years, I’m only five or six years old now. My friends often used to play a jokes on me, but I’m cool with it. It’s a nice memory about my school life.
“I want to say that February 29 is a special day. It only happens every four years. So those who were born that day appreciate it more because it’s not something everyone can enjoy."
Phan Thị Bích has been retired many years, even though she has only had 17 actual birthdays.
“I’m very lucky, because I worked as a teacher and my students always threw birthday parties for me,” said the 68-year-old.
“I feel blessed to have such a special birthday. I’ve always thought I need to live in a way that makes me worthy of the trust and admiration they have for me.
“The people of my generation have lived through a very long and difficult period during which we rarely celebrated birthdays.
“I only started celebrating mine when I reached my middle ages thanks to my students and children, who have all grown up. I often feel so touched. And I find it amusing too, because thanks to my birthday, a lot of my students understand what a leap year is.”
Statistically speaking, a little under 67,000 of the 95 million people living in Việt Nam will celebrate there actual birthdays today.
If anyone feels uncomfortable because they only have a birthday once every four years, Bích has a message for you.
“Never think you’re being left out because your birthdays only come once every four years,” she said.
“You have a very special birthday instead because it’s February 29, so a lot of people will remember. Since it’s a special day, live well as a way to express gratitude to those who remember the day you were born.” VNS
Leap year facts
At 1 in 1,461, the chances of being born on a Leap Day are perhaps higher than you think. Currently, there are estimated to be around 4 to 5 million leaplings in the world.
In Julius Caesar's day, the calendar worked on a 355-day year, with an extra 22-day "leap month" added every two years. Caesar had it simplified to the 365-day system we still use, and gave his name to the month we now call July.
Throughout Europe, February 29 is considered the day women are supposed to propose to men, and if the men refuse to marry the woman, they have to pay fines in the form of gloves and skirt fabric.