Leap Year Traditions and Marriage Proposals
Thirty days hath September,
– an old saying
It is a tradition that ladies can make marriage proposals once every 4 years on the 29th, February in a Leap Year. But why do we have Leap Years and how did this tradition start?
In the Gregorian Calendar we add 1 extra day every 4 years to re-align to the astronomical year on the 29th of February, except for when a year is divisible by 100, but not 400. 2000 was a Leap Year but 1900 wasn't. The Earth does not orbit the sun in exactly 365 days. Normally in the calendar, the days move forward 1 day each year, but in a Leap Year (which runs 1st, March - 28th, February), they move forward 2 days or 'leap' a day.
The origins of the proposal tradition are unclear, but there are fines if a man refuses the proposal. In Finland the man has to buy the fabric to make the lady a skirt, changing to a fur coat in the 20th century. It is believed that it all started in Ireland when St. Patrick is supposed to have granted St. Bridget one day every 4 years for the lady to propose. Anything that is a rarity is also deemed as lucky. Anything started on this day is deemed to be successful. The tradition goes back hundreds of years when the leap year day had no recognition in English law. The day had been ‘leapt over’ and ignored. The day had no legal status, meaning that a break in tradition on this day was acceptable.
The summer Olympic Games are normally held in a Leap Year.
So in these days of equality is this tradtion now outdated? Do women feel that they can propose as equally as a man on any day, or is it just special to keep some traditions? I'll let you ponder that thought while you enjoy your extra day.
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