Why can woman propose on February 29th

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January 16, 2020

After what seems like a lifetime, January is finally over and we can now start to look forward to Valentine’s Day, Easter and warm Summer Nights, Christmas will be here before you know it once again.

But you may not be aware, 2020 is a leap year. Meaning for that 1 single day, every 4 years, a woman is allowed to ask a man to marry her. But do you know why or how this engagement tradition came about?

There’s no concrete reason, but the common perception is that it dates back to the 5th century, when the myth has it, an Irish nun called St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose.

The end outcome was to strike a deal, and St Patrick decided that on this one day in February, which occurs once every four years, when women were allowed to propose.

Overtime and throughout Europe this tradition grew with new rules and stipulations. With it becoming common in many European countries, that any gentleman who refuses a woman’s proposal on a leap day should pay a penalty. The fine could be paid in the form of a new gown, money, or 12 pairs of gloves for the lady.

The logic behind the gloves was that the woman could then wear them to hide her embarrassment as not having an engagement ring. There were laws in the middle ages governing these penalties, but we don’t think they’re enforced any more.

Some random facts about leap years:

  • Leap days are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun.
  • Because a complete orbit around the sun takes slightly longer than 365 days – 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds longer, to be precise.
  • Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year around 46 B.C. But Pope Gregory XIII had to fine tune things around 1,500 years later.
  • He declared that a year that is divisible by 100, but not by 400, is not a leap year People born on Leap Day are called ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’.
  • The chance of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461. Lord Byron was born on a Leap Day. So was the rapper Ja Rule.
  • If you’re on a fixed annual wage, you’re basically working for free on February 29. Joy.

There is no doubt that things have moved on; of course, both men and women can propose, on any day of the year. But it can still be fun to observe traditions sometimes. 

If you do get engaged in 2020, contact Elite Marquees to discuss your requirements and to find out how we can help you.

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