You echo my sentiment, And that being so, I accept your proposal, For weal or for woe.
- Leap Day proposal reply
It’s a LEAP YEAR! Do you know what that means? That today doesn’t count. Break out the mimosas. Maybe you saw the 30 Rock episode last week (and maybe you didn’t) but it doesn’t take Leap Year Willy to explain that this is a very special day. The term Leap Year comes from the idea that for many centuries, February 29th was acknowledged in the calender, but had no legal status and was somewhat ignored. A free day! So because it had no legal status (and was leapt over), that meant that traditions had no place on a day that technically didn’t even exist.
Now just by reading that, you can tell that a whole lot of doors swing wide open. As we all know, it was not particularly “common” (as in technically illegal) for women to propose to men until later in the 20th century. However, on a day that doesn’t legally exist and where customs and traditions have no place – naturally, that’s a loophole that many women took advantage of. It all started in Ireland in the 5th century when St. Bridget was complaining to St. Patrick about how long women had to sit around and wait for a man to propose, which is a fair complaint. I can just picture it – St. Patrick probably just shrugged his shoulders and got tired of hearing about it so he said that women could justly propose on February 29th and that was that. St. Bridget probably smirked to herself and started plotting.
And that has kick started centuries of women being able to propose once every four years. Queen Margaret of Scotland, at the ripe and acquired age of 5, imposed the law that if a man refused the proposal of a woman on Leap Day, then he would face a few penalties. Those penalties ranged from a kiss to a 1 pound payment to a new silk dress. Queen Margaret set the trend for imposing fines – in Denmark, women used to be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves and in Finland, new fabric for a new skirt. I have decided that those are now standard fines for when my husband doesn’t do something I ask him too, that’s fair right? To make up for centuries of unjust behavior towards women?
So here’s to crafty women, who may not have been making the rules for the last 10,000 years but we sure have been bending, breaking and mending them!