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Leap Year Proposals

Posted by Wilson Drew on June 7 2017.

heart roses flowers

The 29th of February is not only a day that comes around once every four years but it’s also a day dedicated to marriage. There are many theories behind why the 29th has become synonymous with women proposing to their gentlemen. One of the origins is in 5th Century Ireland, where St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick. She complained about women having to wait for the suitors to propose so St Patrick gave women a single day every leap year. On that day St Brigid proposed to St Patrick who turned her down by gave her a kiss on the cheek and a silk gown. Another comes from Scotland where Queen Margaret set down fines for men who turned down a marriage proposal by women on the 29th, although there are skeptics however who say she was only five years old at the time and in a completely different country. It wasn’t until the 13th Century when it was passed in to Scottish law. Some others have claimed that traditionally in law, the 29th of Feb was not recognised and therefore it was acceptable to break with convention, including female to male marriage proposals.



With both St Patrick and Queen Margaret, a form of compensation was often given to the women when they were turned down by their suitors. In Scotland specifically, when the law was passed, that the fine could range from a kiss, a red petticoat, right through to a silk dress or, most commonly, a pair of gloves. This glove motif follows over to Denmark where the fine was 12 pairs of gloves, this was so that the woman could be spared embarrassment by covering up the fact that she did not have an engagement ring. The materialistic compensation was also picked up by Finland which had the tradition of giving material for a skirt. This trend of fines was found throughout Europe and most ended up adopting one or two although not much is documented on it.


If you’re thinking of proposing today or in four years time, here’s some advice for you:


wedding rings

Don’t Rush – Many men feel like they won’t consider marriage until they are in a stable career and financial position.


Action Man – The male mind tends to focus more when engaged in activity, so perhaps propose while out walking, on a ski-slope or on holiday.


Keep Him in Mind – Although you might have ideas about how you want to be proposed to, your man may not feel same way. Make sure that the proposal is for him.


Go Ringless – Don’t worry about the ring, you can go shopping together after if he says yes. When you do propose get him an engraved memento that he can keep forever which should have both your names and the date you proposed.


Just Relax – Don’t get too bogged down in the details, keep it fun, witty and light.


We wish everyone the best of luck to those that are proposing today.


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