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FEBRUARY 29: The Only Day a Woman’s Marriage Proposal MUST BE ACCEPTED

Perchance, you have seen the movie Leap Year. In the movie, the character, Anna (Amy Adams) travels from Boston, United States to Dublin, Ireland just so she could propose to her boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott) who was there for an international cardiologists’ conference, and whom she felt was taking things too slowly!

This was done in reflection of an old Irish tradition that a man who is proposed to on a leap day must accept the proposal!

Legend has it that The Ladies’ Privilege, as it was known then, originated in the fifth century (between 401 and 500 CE), with an Irish nun later known as St. Brigid. The tale suggests Brigid proposed to St Patrick, who turned her down but gave her the consolation gift of some silk; while another version says that frustrated that women had to wait for men to propose, St Brigid petitioned St Patrick, who then allowed it once every four years.

Whatever the case, it is believed that it was upon her intervention that February 29 came to be regarded as a day women would be given the opportunity to pop the question, as this would serve the purpose of balancing traditional gender roles in the same manner that leap years serve to balance the calendar.

Some Fun Facts About Leap Day Proposals

  1. In Denmark, men who refused such proposals were to give the lady 12 pairs of gloves to enable her hide the shame of not having a ring on her wedding finger, as a fine for their refusal.
  2. According to tales of an old Scottish law, women had to wear a red petticoat as a signal that they were about to make a leap year proposal.
  3. A popular story has it that Margaret, the Queen of Scots brought in a law that set fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. But sceptics disprove this on grounds that Margaret was only five years old at the time, and was living in far-away Norway.
  4. In the United States, Leap Day dances were historically held as an opportunity for women to do the unthinkable and invite a man to partner them on the dancefloor. These role-reversal events were sometimes called Sadie Hawkins dances, named after a comic strip character.

Of all that has been said about marriage proposals from women, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria of England who wrote about how she proposed marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on October 15 1839.

It reads thus:

He came to the Closet where I was alone, and after a few minutes I said to him, that I thought he must be aware why I wished him to come here and that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wished (to marry me); we embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate… I really felt it was the happiest brightest moment in my life.

What do you think? Interesting stuff, huh? You may leave your thoughts in the Comments if you so please.

See Also: Why Do We Have LEAP YEARS?



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