Women can propose on leap years. But why?
The short answer is that we’re not sure. The most popular legend concerns St Patrick and St Bridget. Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary, 387 AD to 493 AD, and widely recognised as the patron saint of Ireland. In the St Patrick’s leap year legend Saint Bridget complained that women could not propose to the men in their lives. Saint Patrick began by suggesting women could propose but only once every seven years. According to legend, Saint Bridget bargained that seven year window down to every four years.
The Ladies Privilege
The 29th of February is sometimes known as “The Ladies Privilege” and is surrounded by many myths.
One myth is that it is Scottish law, dating from the 13th century, that any man who refuses the proposal from a woman on the 29th must pay £100 in compensation. It was believed failure to pay the fine would result in terribly bad luck. £100 was an incredible amount of money back then. A twist to that myth it was also suggested that if the woman wore something scarlet and the man refused then he would be spared the bad luck if he could not find the £100 fortune.
It is most likely that the legend of girls being able to propose to boys in the leap year – either for the whole year, or more commonly the leap day itself, simply arose to the day being outside the normal calendar. Outside the normal calendar gave cultures a chance to act outside the normal behaviours.
In Pure Spirit
Are you planning to propose on the 29th? Have you been proposed to on the 29th? Please do share your experiences in the comment section below.
Do you have any theories of your own as to how this custom came about?