‘You know, girls can ask guys to marry them on February 29th.’

And so were the words uttered by my mother at the start of the month. Unfortunately and much to her assumed dismay, it didn’t happen. In hindsight, the proposal would have been in keeping with our holiday related relationship start with us having had our first date on Christmas Day. Following an engagement on Leap Year Day, maybe we could get married on Halloween dressed in costume in a ceremony officiated by a pumpkin and then if ONLY I could time popping out a baby at Easter, I feel we would have covered all the major holidays.

Ah, February 29th. In addition to being Superman’s birthday, it’s also the extra day added for fear that after 100 years our calendars will be 24 days out of time with the seasons thereby causing a Winter-Spring-Summer-Fall discombobulation. Imagine, snow in Spring, sunbathing in Fall. Oh, the calamity!

When a leap year hits, not only do we get an extra day in the year (really, who notices?), but in keeping with Irish tradition, on February 29th, women get to propose to their man. Now, I’m Irish and The Canadian One, well he’s clearly not, so being unaware of this tradition I casually mentioned it to him one day. I say ‘casually’, he overheard me on the phone saying ‘No, I’m not asking him to marry me’ and obviously had some questions.

So I explained.

According to legend, way back in the 5th century St. Bridget (who my elementary school was named after, no less) in a conversation with St. Patrick (he of drink-for-24-hours-wear-green-and-let’s-all-be-Irish-for-a-day fame) complained that women were tired of sitting around waiting on the man to propose. St. Patrick, in a bid to help St. Bridget (or stop her moaning; one can never be too sure about a man’s motive) decreed that on February 29th, once every four years, women were allowed to ask a man to marry her. It makes you wonder if during the first year this came into effect, did all the men suddenly take full day fishing / hunting / sitting in the shed doing nothing trips, returning to the safety of the home once March 1st hit.

The legend goes on to say in 1288, Queen Margaret of Scotland then imposed a law that said should a man decline the marriage proposal he would have to pay a fine to ease the pain of the refusal. These fines ranged from £1 to a kiss to a silk gown to a pair of gloves. It’s also worth noting Queen Margaret was 5 at the time, having gained her title at age 3, was living in Norway and subsequently never actually set foot in Scotland during her lifetime.

While this is a tradition mainly associated with Ireland (thanks in part to a 2010 movie aptly called ‘Leap Year’), other countries have jumped on the ‘marraige-leap-year’ bandwagon over the years.

In Denmark, a woman can propose on February 24th of a leap year. If refused, her man must buy her 12 pairs of gloves. Anyone with any knowledge of the reason behind the 12 gloves, please hit up the comments below.

In America, there’s Sadie Hawkin’s Day, their unofficial name for February 29th, while in Greece it’s declared unlucky for couples to be married anytime during a leap year. America’s tradition stems from a comic strip in which a women chases eligible bachelors in a foot race and the one she catches and drags across the finish line first must, by law, marry her. American’s celebrate this by having a Sadie Hawkin’s Dance in November whereby a girl asks a guy to be her date. In contrast, Greece’s was born from good old superstition.

Meanwhile, in The Canadian One’s home country, The Canadian Organisation for Rare Disorders holds a conference in Ottawa to mark February 29th being International Rare Disease Day. Feel free to make of that what you will.

In spite of the fact that I didn’t propose today and had absolutely no plans to, it does make me wonder, HAD I asked The Canadian One to marry me and had he said no, would he then be obliged to buy me that dress I’ve had my eye on in Forever 21?

Oh well, there’s always 2016…and if he says no, I’m demanding a car. What, with inflation and all, a yellow VW Beetle seems perfectly reasonable to ease my pain, don’t you think? At a push, I’ll also accept it in silver.

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17 thoughts on “‘You know, girls can ask guys to marry them on February 29th.’

  1. So raging I am only finding out about the glove thing today. But does that just apply if you know the guy. Would it still count if it was a complete randomer you met at a cashregister while you just so happen to have 12 pairs of gloves ready to be paid for? Please, I just have to get the facts before it comes around again.

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