Leap Day is February 29, 2012, an extra day added to our calendar year. A leap year day is added every four years to the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly 365 days, making this year 366 days. The extra day is a corrective day because the earth has an additional 6 hours to complete its orbit around the sun.
A baby born on leap year is called a leaper or a leapling. Being a Leap Year baby has its benefits such as celebrating on February 28th or March 1st. Technically they could count their birthday ever 4 years in fun, of course, because Mother Nature counts. There are historical traditions behind leap year such as women could propose marriage only on leap year in centuries past. The tradition was initiated by St. Patrick in 5th century Ireland and was never attested before the 19th century.
In 1288, Queen Margaret of Scotland at age 5 and living in Norway set a fine against a man who refused a woman’s marriage proposal on leap day. The man had to compensate the woman by either giving her a kiss or buying her a silk gown in order to soften the blow of his refusal to marry.
In a 17th century play, ‘The Maydes Metamorphosis’ said that in leap year the women wear breeches when pitching their proposal and a few hundred years later it went from breeches to scarlet petticoats as a fair warning.
In Denmark on their leap day a refusal required a woman to be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. In Finland, the tradition for refusing a woman’s proposal on leap day was to buy the lady fabrics for a skirt. In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. Some engaged couples will avoid getting married in a leap year.
When local citizens were asked, “Should a woman propose to a man?” this is what two local men had to say, Richard L., “It would depend on the woman and the relationship between the couple. It is really hard to say.” A young 15-year-old teen, Caleb P. responded by saying, “It is weird for a girl to propose to a guy. I think the man should only ask a woman to marry him.”
Women were asked, “Would you propose to a man?” Annie H.firmly said, “No, way! It is too weird for me to think I could ask my boyfriend to marry me.” Several women just shook their heads no and laughed at the thought.