Wedding Traditions: Leap Year Wedding Proposal?
Q: A friend told me about a supposed wedding tradition of women proposing to men on a leap year. Any idea what the origin of this is, or if it is even true?
A: Rules of courtship are quite different these days (and much less strict), but long ago women who were hoping to marry had to wait for their beaus to propose. They were not "allowed" to pop the question themselves, except on one day: on a leap year (February 29th) -- also known as Sadie Hawkins Day -- which occurs every four years. The tradition dates back hundreds of years, to when the leap year was not recognized by English law; the day was simply "leapt over" and ignored. Since it had no legal status, formal traditions did not apply on this day. Consequently, women who were not content to wait for a proposal took advantage of this anomaly and popped the question themselves. It was also thought that since leap year corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year (365 days) and the time it takes for the earth to complete one orbit of the sun (365 days and 6 hours), it was an opportunity for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unfair. Go ladies of yore!