As an adult, I have a fairly good grasp of leap year. Every four years we add a year to our calendar so that the days will be in sync with the seasons. There is also a lot of math involved; every four years, a day is added to February except the one the 100th year unless it is the 400th year and then it is celebrated. As a kid, I never got it. I just thought it was like any other holiday and didn’t really pay too much attention. I’m not sure where I got the idea it was a holiday… maybe because it was the ’70’s and bra burning was popular so, I thought it had something to do with women’s rights. Which brings me to the history of Leap Day and marriage proposals.
The tradition of a woman proposing on a leap year has been attributed to various historical figures. One, although much disputed, was St Bridget in the 5th Century. She is said to have complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. St Patrick then supposedly gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question – the last day of the shortest month. Another popular story is that Queen Margaret of Scotland brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. Skeptics have pointed out that Margaret was five years old at the time and living far away in Norway. I don’t know about you but I had other things on my mind when I was five other than the injustice of rejected marriage proposals. Any way you look at it, it is an old Irish tradition.
In the past years Leap Day proposals have lost their meaning since women have more rights, the more jobs, the more pay ( almost) and are able to think and act for themselves. We are taught that any woman sitting around for four years waiting for a man to propose should have her head examined.
Zsa Zsa Gabor has claimed that she proposed to all of her nine husbands. The first proposal was when she was only 15 years old, to her 35-year-old boyfriend (weird). It was Gabor’s parents who provided a ten carat diamond to seal the deal for their daughter. More recently, celebrities such as Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Heather Mills, and the singer Pink have admitted to proposing to their husbands… and not one of them on Leap Day which makes it crystal clear that women no longer need a special ‘holiday’ every four years to celebrate gender role-reversal. Score one for women’s rights!
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago