With 2016 being a Leap Year, brings to mind the question of what traditions and lore come along with it. I thought it would be fun to add a post about it since there are so very many interesting historical facts associated with a Leap Year. So, here are some fun things you may or may not have known.
Women Propose to Their Men
Unlucky in Love
In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. However, an unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in 1288 allowing women to propose on leap-year day. But there was a catch: The proposer had to wear a red petticoat (a skirt under her skirt) to warn her intended that she planned to pop the question
Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day, and, the relationship is thought to likely end in divorce.
Gloves Hide Naked Ring Finger
In some places, leap day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.
Women in Finland are advised to propose only leap-year day (Feb. 29) for good luck. If her boyfriend should refuse, he is required to pay her a "fine": enough fabric to make a skirt.
In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.
St Oswald’s Day
Leap day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. His memorial is celebrated on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 during common years.
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As mentioned above, perhaps the most well-known of the leap-year marriage superstitions belongs to Ireland, where, again, women are advised to propose only on Feb. 29 for good luck.
Legend has it that St, Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Initially, he granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but at Brigid's insistence, he acquiesced and allowed proposals every leap day. The folk tale suggests that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow. The Irish tradition therefore dictates that any man refusing a woman's leap-day proposal must give her a silk gown.