Leap years are very strange. These years come about every four years where February is given an extra day. It can be confusing for calendar makers, and even more confusing for the people who are born on February 29th. When exactly is there birthday supposed to fall on non-Leap years?
For leap babies (babies born on Leap Day), birthdays can turn into existential crises. Do you coose to celebrate your birthday on March 1st or February 28th? Are you truly a year older if your actual birth date never occurred? They may seem like silly questions, but not if you are a leap baby.
Technically, someone who is a leap baby and 64 years old, is actually 16 years old because they have only had 16 February 29ths in their lives. That’s why Nina Skoke Ito recently celebrated her Sweet 16 despite being on this Earth for 64 years. Read on to find out more about Leap Babies and their struggle.
Nina Skoke Ito doesn’t have many childhood memories of her birthday parties from when she was growing up in the 50s and 60s. As she jokingly told TODAY, “My parents didn’t have Pinterest.” It wasn’t just the lack of Pinterest to help party plan. It’s also the fact that she was born on February 29th 1956 - leap day.
Nina Skoke Ito is a leap day baby, also known as a leapling. That’s a commonly used term adult leap babies use for themselves. For leaplings, their true birthday only comes around once every four years. Nina Skoke Ito was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in California. She doesn't recall more than one birthday party from when she was eight. She doesn’t even remember any major milestone birthday parties, like her sweet sixteen.
It may seem common nowadays for kids to have birthday parties every year, but that wasn’t the case for Nina. “Nowadays kids have a birthday party every year, but when I was young, I didn’t.” This year will be special for Nina, though. At 64 years old, she’s technically at her sweet sixteen, so she plans on celebrating big time. She will be joining dozens of other leap year babies on a cruise to the bahamas.
The idea to take the group cruise came from a Facebook group that Nina Skoke Ito was a part of, lead by Karen Tinsley-Sroka, a fellow Leap Baby. Her plan was to do a big outing for those born on February 29th. “About three years ago, I started doing some research, around the time people started getting active on Facebook.”
Tinsley-Sroka saw planning the party as her life’s mission. Meanwhile, Ito was looking into what she wanted to do for her birthday party. That’s when she stumbled across Tinsley-Sroka’s group and decided to join in on the 230 person cruise, 76 of which are leap babies. Other than the leap babies, the other people on the cruise are loved ones of the leaplings.
A documentary filmmaker will be filming the entire event. Fittingly, the lead documentarian is a leap day baby himself. “We have one leapling from Australian and another from Sweden. We have three coming from the United Kingdom, and I think we have five coming from Canada… I hope people learn that it’s a good birthday to have,” she said. “We feel so special. We’re like, ‘It’s the best!’ ... I feel so lucky.”