leap year, and february 29th

In Ireland and Britain, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only in leap years. It has been claimed that Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland initiated the tradition.

A 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway) required that fines be levied if the man refused a marriage proposal; compensation was deemed to be a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, £1 and a kiss.

In some places the tradition was tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, February 29, or to the medieval (bissextile) leap day, February 24.

In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt. In America, there is the same tradition, but in addition, she is allowed to swear at him, anonymously, on facebook and twitter.




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