Problems for millions who have Leap Day birthdays

We all have those friends who try to make people guess their age and even though they may look like they are in their 30s, they tell people they are eight.

They can say this because they are born on a Leap Day and only actually have a birthday every four years on February 29th.

Worldwide there are just fewer than five million leapers and the odds of being born on the day are about one in 1,461, according to Raenell Dawn of The Honor Society for Leap Year Babies.

For most salaried employees it's just a day of working for free as paycheques are based on a 365-day year, but leapers certainly care about this day.

"I've had people tell me to my face, 'Who cares?" said Dawn to Reuters. She points out more than 9,000 members in her group do care and they have trouble with many things most non-leapers don't think much about.

On there are many stories of people who say their mothers asked the doctor to change their birth date, but the doctors refused. One dad even tried to slip a doctor $200.

One man tells a story about how a teacher wouldn't let him bring in cake to school because she said he didn't have a birthday that year. One teacher scolded a child for thinking she was making up her birthday and a dad told his daughter she can have a party if she can find her birthday on a calendar.

"I married a man who said, 'sorry dear no birthday this year so no present,'" writes Evelyn Gilman of British Columbia who was born in 1936. "I am no longer married to him."

Leapers have been denied their "free" birthday meal from restaurants and have many computer issues. A parent of Zoe Sanders writes a hospital in Florida had to call a technician to "fix" the problem when the doctor couldn't enter February 29 into the system. A woman in Minnesota couldn't renew her driver's license and a woman in North Carolina couldn't set up a bank account because the systems didn't recognize the day.

Leap days occur in most years divisible by four such as 2004, 2008 and now 2012. Years divisible by 100 do not have leap days, but if the year is divisible by 400 then it does. The reason for the day is because a complete revolution of the sun takes approximately 365 days and six hours so an extra day is added every four years to keep pace with the Earth's revolution speed.

The idea of a leap something dates back a very long time, but used to be considered a leap month. In fact, the Jewish calendar still uses a leap month every two or three years to compensate for the difference in time between a 12-month lunar calendar and the number of days it takes for the Earth to fully rotate. This allows the holidays to fall in generally the same time of year.

For all of those people celebrating a rare birthday tomorrow, happy birthday. You share your special day with Carolina Hurricane Cam Ward and former Montreal Canadien great Henri Richard. Enjoy partying four times harder than most of us do on our birthdays.

(Calgary Herald photo of Calgary grandfather Vince Caleffi and his granddaughter, Viola, who both celebrate their 14th birthdays this week because he was born on a Leap Day.)