February 29th….what’s behind the tradition of this being the day a woman proposes?
Bachelor’s Day is an Irish tradition on leap year that opens women to initiate dances and propose marriage. If the proposal was refused the man was expected to buy the woman a silk gown or, by the mid-20th century, a fur coat (no thanks!). The tradition is supposed to originate from a deal that Saint Bridget struck with Saint Patrick!
Turns out that St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for a man to propose. He conceded by agreeing that women could propose on the leap year. Lucky us! (I’m no expert on Irish Saints, but I’m not sure if they were even alive at the same time!)
It is also claimed that the Scots passed a law back in 1288 where a woman could propose to a man in a leap year, and if the man did not accept he would have to pay a fine! This law, which included women must wear a red petticoat when proposing, was supposedly passed by an unmarried Queen Margaret who, if you do the math, was five years old at the time!
In upper-class Europe, if a man refused a leap year proposal he was obliged to buy the women 12 pairs of gloves as a penalty! Why gloves? It was to hide the woman’s embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.
If you were Greek, leap year was off the cards altogether! Not only do they not get engaged in leap year, they wouldn’t get married in it either!
Are you planning a proposal today?