February 29, 2016

Weird Leap Year Traditions

It's leap day! Which means bachelors beware!

Leap year has been used historically as a year to reverse gender roles.  In the 1700s and 1800s there were leap year parties where the women we able to forego traditional roles and ask the men to dance. In the 1900s, leap day was an excuse to put women in traditionally male roles for a day, such as fire fighters or politicians, with the end goal of securing a husband by media attention. But by far the most interesting leap year tradition is women being able to propose marriage to men regardless of societal limits.  

The origins of leap year proposals are murky. Lore relates that the tradition goes back to 5th century when St. Brigid complained to St. Patrick that women did not have the option. Another tale states the origin is a Scottish law from 1288 by unmarried Queen Margaret which proposed any man who refused the proposal of a women during leap year would have to pay a fine. Neither of these origins is plausible but the two theories have been printed and reprinted for at least 200 years.

The tradition seems to be all in good fun.

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