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Rebecca Griffiths-Davies-Legal Cashier

The tradition that women can propose to their male partners only on February 29th of a leap year dates as far back to the 5th century. It’s believed that St. Brigid of Kildare, an Irish nun of the time struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men. But it was only to happen every 4 years. This was thought to have been to balance the traditional roles of men and women in the similar way that leap day balances the calendar.

It’s a tradition that has been adapted and moulded by countries all around the world. In Greece, getting married in a leap year is considered unlucky, and the relationship is thought likely to end in divorce. Women in Finland are advised to propose only on leap-year day for good luck.

In Scotland, an unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in 1288 allowing women to propose on Leap Year day. There was a catch however. The proposer had to wear a red petticoat to warn her intended that she planned to pop the question.

If he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day, a man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money. In many European countries tradition says that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention of this was to save the woman embarrassment of having to show her bare ring finger for the next 12 months.

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