February 29, 2016 is a Leap Day, which are super special because they only come every four years. And since this is the case, it’s loaded with traditions, including one that encourages women propose to men on Leap Day.
The idea of women proposing to their partner today is in the same vein as Sadie Hawkins Day, which happens in November, but with a different history tied to it. Either way, gender roles are thrown out the window on these two days and women are encouraged to pop the question. So if you’re looking to get hitched and your partner isn’t making a move, here’s a designated day to do it and say eff you to sexist marriage traditions.
But what about all other days? Unfortunately, women proposing to men still doesn't happen frequently today. We've done away with plenty of other marriage traditions, what about this sexist one? “The leap year tradition looked like it was giving women opportunities but in reality, it kept them in their place." Katherine Parkin, an associate professor of history at Monmouth University in New Jersey, told the New York Times. "A woman asking a man is disrupting a sacrosanct power that men have held throughout American history. Same-sex proposals have not changed traditional heterosexual ones because, within that couple, there is a balance due to the fact that they are the same sex. They are not providing an alternative for what continues to be the narrow rules of getting engaged.”
So we still have a ways to go on this one. But why are women encouraged to propose today specifically? Well, according to legend and folklore, there are few different reasons.
1. It’s Possibly Steeped In Irish History
When it comes to things from a very long time ago, you need to take it with a grain of salt. That being said, one legend as to why today is a day for women to propose is because St. Brigid, an Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, back in the fifth Century, that this be the case in order to balance traditional gender roles. Her reason being that the Leap Year balances the calendar. Definitely a woman ahead of her time.
2. Maybe Queen Margaret Of Scotland Is Behind It
Another theory behind the tradition comes out of 1288 Scotland. The law that was supposedly enacted by Queen Margaret of Scotland gave all unmarried women free reign to propose to whomever man they chose, although I’m sure he also had to be unmarried. If he said no, he was issued a fine.
However, the most interesting piece about this legend is the fact that Queen Margaret would have been only five years old at the time she would have come up with this law, and since she died at the age of eight, it’s not likely that she was in any position to make this a legitimate law. Or maybe she was? Things were different back then.
3. It Could Also Have Been An English Law
Scholars also think that the tradition came out of England before the Leap Year was even recognized. Because of the fact that it wasn't legally recognized, it allowed women to kick traditional gender roles to the curb for the day and do the proposing. You know, because if the day doesn’t really exist, you can do whatever you want, which makes gorgeous sense to me.
4. Either Way, The Tradition Does Come With Some Rules
If you’re thinking today is the day that you will be proposing to your beloved, you better get your outfit right. If you want to stick to tradition, you need to either wear a red petticoat — something I’m sure all women have on hand at any given moment — or pants when you pop the biggest question you may ever pop.
If you reside in Denmark or Finland and your beloved snubs your proposal, then you get to make out like a bandit — in gloves or a skirt. The penalty for saying no to a marriage proposal today in Denmark will result in the naysayer giving you 12 pairs of gloves, because obviously you need 12 pairs, and in Finland you’ll find yourself in possession of enough fabric for a skirt. I just how hope you know how to sew.
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