Traditionally, women chose to propose men on February 29,(leap day). A woman, on this day is allowed to take her destiny in her own hands and ask a man to marry her, and eventually win.
But, how and why did this Leap Year tradition come about?
There are various theories about regarding the origin of the tradition. Some suggest that it dates back to Scotland, in 1288, where Queen Margaret enacted a law allowing women to propose on leap year day. Women who were planning to propose , had to wear a red petticoat under their skirt , to signal their intention to propose.
But the problem with this theory is that Queen Margaret was only 6 year old in 1288. And the historians haven’t found any evidence related to such a law. So, we can’t really say if it really happened.
Another reason given to the tradition is found in Ireland.
According to this, St Brigid asked St Patrick to allow women to propose as complaints from women came up that their intended husbamds were too shy to propose. St Patrick is said to have allowed this to happen every leap year i.e once in every four years. As it was leap year day, St Brigid immediately proposed.
According to the tale, St Patrick turned her down but offered her a kiss and a silk gown as a consolation prize.
This is supposedly the origin of an Irish tradition which says that if a man refuses a woman’s leap day proposal, he would have to give her a silk gown.
Interestingly, the Scottish origin story also states for penalty. For any bachelor man who upsets women on this day, shall have to give her either a kiss, a silk dress or gloves.
It is suggested that gloves are given, so that women can cover their hands, so people can’t see that she aren’t wearing an engagement ring.