Leap Year Weddings
Did you propose on February 29th 2012?
Weddings are steeped in tradition: from ‘something borrowed’ to the Best Man’s speech, there are plenty of established conventions which we all expect to see in and around a wedding. But these conventions also apply to the run-up to the wedding too.
Take the proposal, for example. In traditional male/female marriages, a wedding proposal is generally given by the man to the woman. There are of course exceptions, but this has been the general year for hundreds and hundreds of years. However, there is one single day when this concept is flipped on its head and the women are encouraged to ask the men to marry them: February 29th, during leap years.
Every four years, this extra day in February has now become known for being a time when ladies can ask the gents for their hand in marriage. But this tradition isn’t just for a bit of fun, female marriage proposals on February 29th actually have a solid grounding in history.
The tradition of female proposals on February the 29th can be traced back to the year 1288. It was then that Scotland passed a law that stated women were allowed to propose to a man on that day only. It even went so far as to impose a fine on any man that declined a woman’s wedding proposal on that day in a leap year. The fine usually wasn’t too severe (sometimes even a kiss would suffice), but it does go to show how seriously this law was taken.
In England, the reason for the female proposal on February 29th is based on the fact that the law did not ‘recognise’ the 29th as a real date. Because it happened just once every four years, it had no legal status and was therefore disregarded by authorities. This didn’t mean that people simply ignored the law and did what they liked, but it did mean that some of the older more ‘unfair’ laws were challenged. The law stating that only men could propose, for example. This all lead to women being legally allowed to propose on February the 29th, every four years.
These days, of course, there are no laws regarding marriage proposals, and so the February 29th female proposal has become something of legend: a bit of fun for people who want to do something a little different. To this day, many women take advantage of the opportunity lent to them by the leap year... but would you have the gumption to pop the question?