UNC students celebrate rare birthdays on Feb. 29


Emily Ott, sophomore pre-health policy major, and Shea Casper, sophomore, biology major, are celebrating their 5th actual birthday since they are born on leap day. The two girls joked that they will be 64 years old before they get to celebrate their sweet sixteen birthday.

A day like this doesn’t come around every year.

While Feb. 29 might pass unnoticed by most UNC students, for sophomores Emily Ott and Shea Casper it is a very special day indeed.

It’s their fifth birthday.

Ott and Casper are not child prodigies. As leap year babies, they are part of a small number of UNC students who get to celebrate their birthdays only once every four years.

But Ott said having a birthday that comes up only once every four years isn’t as bad as it sounds.

“It’s just four times more excitement every four years,” she said.

The leap year anomaly occurs because of an inaccuracy in the calendar used in most of the world, which counts a year as 365 days. Scientifically, one year should be 365.2422 days, so the leap day accounts for that difference every four years.

A leap year birthday weighs a little more than normal, said sophomore Conor O’Neill, who plans to celebrate his fifth birthday in the fourth row at the Smith Center at the UNC-Maryland basketball game.

“It’s like having your birthday, and New Year’s and Halloween all rolled into one,” he said.

Some said they go out of their way to do something special.

“It’s a really good excuse to do something ridiculous,” said UNC alumna Claire Berngartt.

“For my sixth birthday I took all my friends to Vegas,” she said.

But having a leap day birthday wasn’t always a cause for excitement, said Alex Karsten.

The sophomore said that when the nurse attending to his pregnant mother at the hospital realized that he was going to be born on the 29th, she offered to delay the birth so he wouldn’t have a “weird birthday.”

But he’s glad his mother decided to get it over with.

“It does make me feel special; it makes me unique,” he said.

UNC alumnus Alex Kowalski said there used to be some teasing when he was younger about it being only his second birthday, but he always had a clever response ready.

“I used to say, ‘I must be the smartest two-year-old in the world,’” he said.

While Kowalski is hoping to live to celebrate his 21st birthday eventually, Ott’s sights are set to another, lower milestone.

“I really just can’t wait to celebrate my sweet 16 when I turn 64,” she said.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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