The Truth About Why Women Propose on Leap Day

woman proposing to man

It's only natural for a day that comes around just once every four years to attract some fun folklore and superstitions. We did some digging on the tradition of women proposing to men on this day, as seen in the 2010 flick Leap Year.

These days, we all know it's perfectly fine for a woman to propose to a man. But centuries ago, it was unthinkable—except on leap day. As the story goes, St. Bridget struck a deal with St. Patrick after complaining that women did not have the right to propose marriage. St. Patrick suggested that women have the right once every seven years, but St. Bridget negotiated it down to once every four years—and that day would be leap day.

The more likely scenario is that, since February 29 was seen as a "bonus" day, people felt that the traditional rules of conduct did not apply. Regardless, it's become a fun tradition over the centuries for leap day to become a Sadie Hawkins Day. 

Although there's a myth that it's illegal for a man to refuse a leap day proposal, there's no basis to the so-called 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland that required fines be levied if a proposal was refused, ranging from a kiss to a monetary fine to expensive gifts for the scorned woman. Regardless, one tradition says a man who refuses must buy the woman 12 pairs of gloves to hide the embarrassment of having no engagement ring. Another says he must buy her silk. And another story say that a man who refuses will suffer severe bad luck and ill fortune. 

The folklore around February 29 doesn't end with proposals. According to a Greek superstition, it's considered unlucky to get married in a leap year. One in five couples in Greece will apparently avoid planning their wedding during a leap year.

Tell us: are you planning on proposing today?

—Kristen O'Gorman Klein

Photo Credit: DNY59/istockphoto