Week 7 - Leap Year Proposal

Welcome to Week 7 in our ’52 Rituals/Traditions in 52 Weeks’

This week, given that we are in a leap year and I’m sure many of you have been hearing lots of wonderful stories about the tradition of leap year proposals, as we have, we thought we would do a little post about this age old tradition which is widely known and definitely a favourite. In Anglo-Saxon times it was considered to be very lucky if a couple married in a leap year. It was especially lucky if the woman herself had proposed in that leap year.

The 29th day of February every four years in a leap year sees every woman have the right to propose to the man she would like to marry. (I wish brad Pitt had been somewhere close by). This tradition goes back many hundreds of years to a time when the leap year day actually had no recognition in English law. It was considered that the day was simply 'lept over' and ignored, which obviously coined the term 'leap year'.

Given that there was absolutely no recognition of the day It was considered, therefore, that as it had no legal status, it was reasonable then to assume that traditions also had no status.

As a consequence, the many women who were desperately concerned about becoming spinsters and being 'left on the shelf' took advantage of this and proposed to the man they wished to marry.

It was also widely accepted that since the leap year day corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year of 365 days and the time taken for the Earth to complete one orbit of the sun (being 365 days and 6 hours), this was an opportunity for the women of the world to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unjust.

An old rhyme refers to tradition:

“Happy they’ll be that wed and wive,

Within leap year, they’re sure to thrive.”

There is actually a document from Scotlandthat states that women were thereafter allowed to propose marriage to the man of their choice in a leap year. If a man dared to decline a woman’s proposal on this day he would be required to pay a fine which could possibly range from a simple kiss to the more costly gift of a silk dress or pair of gloves.

So ladies, we hope you al had a wonderful February 29th and to those of you who stood up courageously and proposed we wish you all of the good luck that hundreds of years of history has promised.

The Wedding Guru’s