Leap year has been the traditional time that woman can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man and society doesn’t look down on them for doing it, or think it’s strange, However, that hasn’t always been the case.
When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on on day every four years. That day was February 29th.
It is believed that this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait so long for a man to propose. According to legend, St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the leap year. According to English law, February 29th was ignored and had no legal status. Folks assumed that traditions would also have no status on that day. It was also reasoned that since the leap year day existed to fix an old and unjust custom that only let men propose marriage.
The first documentation of this practice dates back to 1288, when Scotland supposedly passed a law that allowed women to propose marriage to a man on their choice that year. Tradition states they also made it law that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine. The fine could range from a kiss, to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves.
What do you think of the tradition?
The Claddagh ring, shown to the left is a traditional Irish ring given as a token of friendship, love, or marriage. The Claddagh’s distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). A “Fenian” Claddagh ring, without a crown, was later designed in Dublin. Claddagh rings, with or without the crown (most commonly with a crown), have come to denote pride in Irish heritage, while continuing to be symbols of love or marriage.