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Hollywood iconized the year 2012 with its doomsday blockbuster of the same name, but life goes on for those of us in the real world, especially for those who have occasion to celebrate.
This year is a leap year, which occurs once every four years, with 29 days in February instead of the usual 28.
"I don't treat it as any more special even though I can only celebrate my birthday once in four years. I have a birthday cake and a party like most other people. A rare birthday doesn't mean I have to celebrate it in unusual ways," says Zhu Yuqing, 24, a postgraduate at the Beijing Language and Culture University.
Unlike those born on a leap day who often make up for it with a special celebration when their birthday actually comes around, Zhu doesn't normally bother. But last year, she did something different - she celebrated her birthday on Feb 28.
It was the year she was to graduate from her college in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, so her classmates held a small party and sang karaoke all night to celebrate her "birthday".
“毕业后天各一方，我们今年肯定不能相聚了，所以提前庆祝比较好。朋友们会在生日快到的那几天跟我说‘生日快乐’，但只有在闰年才送我生日礼物。我每年都送他们生日礼物，所以他们经常开玩笑说我比较亏。”她说道。"We weren't able to get together this year after graduation, so it was better to celebrate in advance, my friends say 'happy birthday' to me these days, but only give me presents in leap years. But I give them birthday gifts every year, so they often joke that I get the short end of the stick."Zhu says.
Sometimes, leap year babies get to celebrate in style, when family and friends "compensate" them for the missing years.
"I get more greetings and gifts in leap years. I don't look forward to my birthday, because it takes such a long time to come around," Li Molin, 32, a senior manager at an Internet company in Beijing, says.
He adds he only celebrates his birthday on leap years, and he gets birthday presents that are larger than usual, or four presents at once. He once got a video game console.
"I usually invite no more than 10 friends, but I receive about 30 gifts as my friends want to make up," he says. For example, he received four boxes of chocolate from one friend, and he also got two 50-cm tall Optimus Prime and Bumblebee Transformer models.
He's gone through cycles of reaction about his rare anniversaries. "In my childhood, I felt sad as the other kids all had birthdays, but I didn't. Then I started being proud of being distinctive. Now that I'm grown up, I think it's nothing special, but because of my birthday, I do have a psychological advantage in thinking I am unique and so I have to be more outstanding than others. I think I'm lucky. My academic life and career are both going smoothly."Li says.
For Chinese leap year babies, there's another way out of that dilemma. They celebrate their birthdays according to the anniversaries on the lunar or Chinese calendar.
"My 4-year-old daughter has a birthday party every year, as it's our tradition to celebrate the lunar calendar birthday rather than the Gregorian date," "This year is special as it's the first time she can have two birthdays and get double the number of presents from me and her dad. My daughter goes to kindergarten, where teachers hold a special party for her as she's the only one born on Feb 29 there."says Zeng Yan, 31, who owns a children's clothing store in Huzhou, Zhejiang province.