Today is Leap Year Day which as we all know, only occurs every four years.
The tradition in England is that a woman may propose marriage to the man of her choice on this day. This tradition originates from hundreds of years ago to the time when leap year day was not recognised in English law - the day was ‘leapt over' and ignored which lead to the term 'leap year'.
As the day had no legal status, it was considered reasonable to assume that traditions had no status. It was also reasoned that since the leap year day existed to fix a problem in the calendar, it could also be used to fix an old and unjust custom that only let men propose marriage.
Back in the 5th century, Irish St. Bridget convinced St. Patrick that women should be allowed to propose marriage at least once day a year. St. Patrick relented, but with a catch—he ordained that women would have the opportunity only every four years—on leap day. Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves, in order to soften the blow. Because men felt that put them at too great a risk, the tradition was in some places tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, 29 February, or to the medieval leap day, 24 February.
A 16 year old Cypriot girl proposed to her fellow student and they are still happily married after 50 years.
There is a Greek superstition that claims couples have bad luck if they marry during a leap year. Apparently one in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid planning their wedding during a leap year.
How to propose on Leap Year Day
What happens if he says "no"?A "no" is not necessarily the end of your relationship. King George VI was turned down four times by the Queen Mum before he got a "yes". But then, he was a king. Many proposal rejections do spell the end of the relationship, so be prepared for that.
By the way, a person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling". There is a one in 1506 chance of being born on Leap day and there are over 4 million leap year babies worldwide. This, and other interesting facts are to be found at the @February 29th page, which lives at http://www.mystro.com/leap.htm. In addition to interesting facts, the page hosts a leap year calculator, a leap year cocktail recipe, and leap year stories.
Leap Year cocktail - never order a Leap Year cocktail by name. Instead, call out the ingredients: 1.5 oz gin, 0.5 oz Grand Marnier, 0.5 oz sweet vermouth, and a squeeze of lemon. Shake with crushed ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.