Sweet February Twenty- Nine
An extra day for the pessimists, for them it’s the another day at work.
For me sweet February Twenty-Nine!
Sweet February Twenty- Nine.
This is our grace-year!
What a wonderful, unexpected gift is Leap Year, the extra day and the realization that this is certainly a wonderful year of grace. Now let me share the story.
St Patrick said that women could propose on 29 February. The first documentation of this practice dates back to 1288 when Scotland passed a law allowing women to propose marriage in that year which fell on a leap year. In England, 29 February was effectively ignored by English Law and “leapt over”. As the day didn’t have any legal status, traditions also lost their significance and women were able to propose marriage.In Scotland, an unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in 1288 allowing women to propose on leap-year day. But there was a catch: The proposer had to wear a red petticoat (a skirt under her skirt) to warn her intended that she planned to pop the question.If a man refused the female suitor, tradition has it that she should be compensated with £1, a kiss or a silk gown.
Perhaps the most well-known of the leap-year marriage superstitions belongs to Ireland, where, again, women are advised to propose only on Feb. 29 for good luck. Anyone remember the 2010 film, “Leap Year”?
Legend has it that St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Initially, he granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but at Brigid’s insistence, he acquiesced and allowed proposals every leap day. The folk tale suggests that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow. The Irish tradition, therefore, dictates that any man refusing a woman’s leap-day proposal must give her a silk gown. If you think these stories sound unrealistic, you’re not the only one with doubts. Scholars have pointed out that, in Scotland, Queen Margaret would have been just 5 years old when the alleged leap-year proposal law was enacted, making it unlikely that she fretted over a woman’s right to request a hand in marriage. However, historians have been unable to find any reference to the supposed law on the books. The roots of the Irish tradition are dubious as well. St. Brigid was just 9 or 10 years old when St. Patrick died in 461 A.D. — though some put this date closer to 493 A.D. — making the pair’s friendship unlikely.
In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. 🙂
February Twenty- Nine
Sweet February Twenty- Nine.
Quickly we must seize the moment,
for this day won’t come again for another four years.
Happy Leap Day!