Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Single ladies–it’s your day to propose

Did you know that February 29, aka Leap Year Day is the day when women propose to men? It’s the Sadie Hawkins Dance for proposals.

The tradition of a woman proposing on a leap year has been attributed to various historical figures. One, although much disputed, was St Bridget in the 5th Century. She is said to have complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. St Patrick then supposedly gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question - the last day of the shortest month. Another popular story is that Queen Margaret of Scotland brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. Skeptics have pointed out that Margaret was five years old at the time and living far away in Norway. The tradition is not thought to have become commonplace until the 19th Century.

Propose now Bessie, or I’ll hit you with my cane.

The practice of women proposing in a leap year is different around the world. In Denmark, it is not supposed to be 29 but 24 February, which hails back to the time of Julius Caesar. A refusal to marry by Danish men means they must give the woman 12 pairs of gloves. In Finland, it is not gloves but fabric for a skirt and in Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky, leading many couples to avoid it.

Forget engagements, I think it’s the perfect day to get married. Then you’d only have to remember once every four years, and it could be a big celebration.

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