Leap Year babies ready for February 29
It has been four years since Alveda Johnson's birthday showed up on the calendar. The retired teacher at St Elizabeth Technical High School was born on February 29, a birthday that few people share.
Johnson, who turns 84 on Saturday, is planning to celebrate the milestone at her home in Lambert district, Goshen, St Elizabeth.
"I can celebrate on February 28, March 1 and then every four years on February 29. I am very fortunate. I feel very special. Many are born in February, but not on the 29th," she said.
February 29 is referred to as a leap day and persons born on this day are called leapers, leapsters, and leap day babies. It is rare for persons to be born on leap day, and perhaps harder to find celebrities who celebrate their birthday on February 29. Ja Rule, American rapper, songwriter, singer and actor is among the few.
In Jamaica, for example, only 556 live births have taken place on February 29 over the past 20 years, according to data from the Registrar General's Department.
Johnson said that she felt left out while growing up because it took a while - four years - for her birthday to come around.
"I am very grateful to God that he has spared me so I can see my 84th year. That's a blessing. As a child, you don't appreciate most of these things until you grow up and realise how good God is to you. As a child, I felt like while everyone was celebrating birthdays, I had to wait four years," she said with a chuckle.
Every leap year, the Goshen district resident looks forwards to a 'real, bashment birthday.'
"People wait for the four years and have parties for me. They are never really anything big when it's not the real one ... the 29th of February. I don't feel anyway about that ... that's great. After all, if not better than, I'm different. This happens every four years ... I can't wait."
Likewise, Michelle Venson, a teacher at Westwood High School, feels blessed to have been born on the 29th. She already has special plans in place to celebrate this year.
"I have to wait all of four years. I'm a cut above the rest just to be born on February 29 ... This day was created for me," she said. "For my birthday, I'll be doing something that I truly want to do and love. I'm a lover of sports so this year my birthday will see me at no other place than the Gibson Relays," she shared with excitement.
"Everybody wants to know how old I am ... even students will try to guess my age ... 'Miss, are you 16 years old' they woud ask."
She prayed that her child would be born on the same day. "I would want my child to be born on a leap year ... it was something that I prayed for, but I guess that prayer was not answered."
Kimberley Campbell told THE WEEKEND STAR that her parents allowed her to feel like a regular child.
"They just celebrated my birthday as any other parent would. Growing up, I felt super unique having my birthday on the 29th and having it every four years. I was the only one in my class that had that birthday."
Campbell said she had two birthdays as a child, because her parents couldn't decide on one day.
"My parents celebrated it on the 28th for my father because his birthday is in February as well. He wanted to keep me in his month. My mother wanted to celebrate my birthday on March 1st. So I had two celebrations of my birthday ... they would literally tell me happy birthday on their own specific days," Campbell said.
Another leap year baby, Joy Harris, told THE WEEKEND STAR that she has never done anything special to celebrate her birthday in previous years, however, this she welcoming plans for this Saturday.
"No, I've never celebrated my birthday, but this birthday will be special, No, me nah have sex! But I have big plans in place," she said.
Harris believes that being born on the 29th has a lot to do with her spiritual being and how she navigates through life.
"It has a lot to do with my destiny. Being born in a leap year means that I have unusual talents, I am a friendly and optimistic person who sees the positive in every situation," Harris said.
Leap Age: 8
Actual Age: 32
Leap Age: 21
Actual Age: 84
Leap Age: 12
Actual Age: 48
Leap Age: 11
Actual Age: 44
Leap Age: 10
Actual Age: 40
LEAP YEAR BABIES IN LAST 20 YEARS
2000 - 152