Leap Day baby: DWU student to celebrate ‘sixth’ birthdayNick Zawacki celebrates his “sixth” birthday today. The assistant baseball coach and graduate student at Dakota Wesleyan University actually turns 24, but was born on Feb. 29 as a Leap Day baby, and rarely gets to celebrate his actual birthday.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
Nick Zawacki celebrates his “sixth” birthday today.
The assistant baseball coach and graduate student at Dakota Wesleyan University actually turns 24, but was born on Feb. 29 as a Leap Day baby, and rarely gets to celebrate his actual birthday.
Leap Day, a day that comes around every four years to synchronize the calendar year, marks special celebrations for many around the world.
Zawacki is one in more than 200,000 U.S. Leap Day babies; there are nearly 5 million worldwide born on Feb. 29.
Zawacki usually celebrates his birthday on March 1 — the same day his father was born. But every four years, he gets a little bit of an extra celebration and additional attention.
“On Leap Day, it’s a little more of a celebration and joking around,” Zawacki said. “My mom picks up newspaper articles on Leap Day and how special of a day it is.”
Growing up, Zawacki said having a Leap Day birthday was confusing.
“I actually had no idea. For a while, I always thought my birthday was March 1,” he said.
A trip to the hospital as a youngster confused nurses.
“It was kind of funny. They thought I couldn’t remember my birthday. It was Feb. 29 and I always thought it was March 1,” he said.
Zawacki has no younger siblings to tease him about his “young” age, but he said that his players on Wesleyan’s baseball team often give him grief.
Daniel Leister, of Hawley, Minn., shares a birthday with Zawacki. Leister turns 60 — or 15 — this year. When Feb. 29 came around, the celebration often lasted several days.
“I’ve been lucky over the years,” said Leister. “People don’t think I look my age.”
He still recalls Bemidji, Minn., businesses giving away presents to Leap Year babies, including one from Don’s Tire when Leister was about 8.
“He gave away a sack of marbles,” Leister said Tuesday. “It was like gold. You were the richest kid in town.”
A jokester, Leister sometimes was the subject of lighthearted jabs. “My nieces and nephews picked on me that they were older than me,” he said. Expectant mothers, too, will schedule C-sections so their future son or daughter will have a special birthday. At a Florida hospital in Orlando, an increase in scheduled C-sections occurs on Leap Day, said the hospital’s spokeswoman, Sara Channing.
Birth certificates and most government agencies like Social Security use Feb. 29 for babies born on Leap Day, but leaplings occasionally encounter difficulties using their true birthdays as computer systems might not recognize their birth date when it comes to signing important documents. Now that Zawacki’s older, he and his family still hold special celebrations for his Leap Day birthday.
“Most special celebrations are for your 21st or 25th. Every four years I get a special birthday celebration.”
The Associated Press and Forum Communications Co. contributed to this report.