TODAY is February 29 – an extra day in February that only happens once every four years.

2024 is a leap year and there will be 366 days instead of 365 days this year allowing the Gregorian calendar to get back in sync with the seasons as the earth orbits the sun.

What happens when you’re born on February 29?

No doubt, it’s a unique day to be born but when do you celebrate your birthday in non-leap years?

Do you have cake and cards and a party on February 28 each year or wait until March 1?

These St Helens residents were all born on February 29 and have had different experiences of such a special birth date over the years.

Each of them was born in a leap year on the extra day in February meaning they can only celebrate their real birthday once every four years.

Does that mean they age at a quarter of the rate as the rest of us?

What’s it like being born on February 29?

Happy birthday to all the leaplings born on February 29!

Sandra Swift and son Christopher were both born on February 29

Sandra Swift and son Christopher were both born on February 29

Sandra Swift and her son Christopher, from Blackbrook, will both be celebrating this year after they were each born on February 29.

Sandra will be 64 or 16 in leap years and Christopher turns 10 in leap years but will be 40.

Sandra said: “I was born on February 29, 1960 at Cowley Hill Hospital.

“Christopher was born on February 29, 1984 at Whiston Hospital.

“We are both born and bred in St Helens.

“When I was growing up, I always celebrated my birthday on the day nearest to pay day.

“Now, we usually celebrate on February 28.

“This year, we are spending the day together just the two of us – with a few surprises!

“No doubt we will be doing something special with the rest of the family over the weekend.

“It’s great when you try and explain to people that you only have a birthday every four years!”

But what about having a baby on February 29 when you were born on that unusual date too?

What are the odds?

Sandra said: “I was due on February 28 but as I’d had a stillborn 18 months earlier, my doctor didn’t want me to go over my due date.

“I remember her saying ‘Oh, you don’t want to have a baby on February 29 so we’ll bring you in on March 1 and start you off’.

“I told her to look at my date of birth and she got quite a shock!

“I went into labour on February 28 but Christopher was born on February 29 – just like me.

“I think the chances of a leap year baby going on to have a leap year baby themselves must be a million to one.

“I remember going mad at my husband for not putting a bet on it happening!”

Leapling Catherine Hazelby and grandson Carter SH

Leapling Catherine Hazelby and grandson Carter SH

Catherine Hazelby is 11 today – or should that be 44?

She was born and raised in St Helens and went to Legh Vale Primary School and then Newton High School.

“Catherine said: “My mum always made sure I celebrated my birthday on February 28 but made an extra special effort whenever it was my real birthday in a leap year.

“I get very excited when it’s my real birthday!

“I’m going up to Scotland this time to celebrate with friends.

“I do like having my birthday on a leap year but girls need to stop popping the question on February 29 and let us celebrate our special day!”

Nikki Hughes always gets cards with her leap year age on her birthday

Nikki Hughes always gets cards with her leap year age on her birthday

Nikki Hughes is also 44 today – 11 in leap year birthdays.

Nikki, who grew up in Clock Face and went to St Cuthbert’s, said: “I was born in 1980 so will be 11 in leap years.

“I always celebrate on February 28 but when it’s February 29 I get birthday cards with my leap year age.

“I’m going out with friends this year and having a meal with family.

“I don’t mind having a unique birthday as it makes me a little bit different and I get an extra special birthday every four years.”

Sara Hinton will be 10 or 40 this year

Sara Hinton will be 10 or 40 this year

Sara Hinton will finally reach double digits today – 10 in leap years having been born in 1984.

Sara went to St Peter and Paul’s Primary School and St Augustine’s High School and always hated her birthday.

She said: “It causes problems filling out forms as there’s never a February 29 listed and I used to hate people saying I was only one when I was actually a big four!

“I usually celebrate on February 28.

“My mum passed away when I was two and she would always say that I was born on the last day of February so I needed to celebrate on February 28 in non leap years.

“My dad would argue that I was born on the day after February 28 so it should be March 1.

“After she passed, my dad said I should celebrate on February 28 for her.”

Last year’s birthday was particularly special to Sara as a Harry Potter fan.

She said: “I was excited that it was my Harry Potter birthday last year – 2023 – as I turned nine and 3/4 just like the station at Kings Cross heading to Hogwarts!

“This year, I’ll be ten – double digits – what a relief!

“I am a member of a Facebook group of ‘leapers’ from around the world and other countries offer freebies and discounts for anyone born on February 29 but that doesn’t seem to happen in the UK.

“This year, I’m going to my favourite chippy with a friend and then having cake with my children in the evening.

“I couldn’t wish for a better way to celebrate than seeing all my family.”