The Strange Traditions and Facts of Leap Year
22nd February 2016
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Leap Year has some rather strange traditions attached to it. One of the most well-known of these is the role reversal of marriage proposals.

Although its ‘traditional’ for a man to propose to a woman, February 29th is the day when women proposing to men is considered normal. Why is this though?

This idea is thought to date back to 5th century Ireland, when St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose. He then gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question.

 Legend has it that Bridget 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.

Another story said to be the origin of this tradition dates back to 1288 in Scotland, when Queen Margaret, aged just five years old, declared that a woman could propose to any man she liked on February 29th.

She also ruled that men who refused a proposal would need to pay a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, a pair of gloves or a fine of one pound.

A similar idea is still played in modern society, although not as drastic. In Denmark, a man refusing a woman’s Leap Day proposal must give her 12 pairs of gloves, while in Finland its fabric for a skirt.

In Greece, one in five engaged couples avoid getting married in a Leap Year because they believe its bad luck.

Did you know that the frog is often the symbol of Leap Year and is commonly associated with it? This is most likely due to frogs being known to leap.

People born on February 29th are often called a “leapling” or a “leaper.” The chance of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461. There are five million leaplings around the world!

A poem closely associated with Leap Year:

“Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one
Save February, she alone
Hath eight days and a score
Til leap year gives her one day more.”

Do you plan on doing anything special this Leap Year?

About the Author

Holly C

Member since: 24th September 2015

I'm Holly and I am the former apprentice at thebestoflichfield. Lichfield has been a big part of my life, so I'm eager to help the community in any way possible.
I enjoy writing, drawing and graphic illustration....

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