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Girl Power: It’s Not Just For Leap Year Anymore

29 Feb Girl Power: It’s Not Just For Leap Year Anymore

Wedding Traditions & The History of Engagements

history of leap year engagements

St. Bridget - a feminist in her day

I recently stumbled across something that I found really interesting regarding leap year and the history of wedding traditions and engagements. Most people have heard of the “Sadie Hawkins Dance” where it’s the girl’s choice to pick her date and these days most high schools have a Sadie Hawkins Dance or two a year. But, I think that few people know that this tradition started in Ireland with a feisty little Saint named Brigette.

Lore has it that St. Brigette complained to St. Patrick (we’ve all heard of him) about how long some women have to wait for their men to propose. To keep her happy, St. Patrick declared that each leap year, Feb 29, women could “lawfully” propose to men (at this point in history it had been technically illegal for a woman to propose to a man – believe it or not).

The first true documentation of this law in effect is all the way back in 1288 in Scotland, where legal documents state that on Feb 29 it is legal for a women to propose to a man. Tradition states that any man who declines a proposal on leap year must pay a fine (apparently the “fine” could range from a kiss to a gift of silk, but if you ask me, it should be something better than that if you’re declining a marriage proposal!)

Many years later the United States followed suite with “Sadie Hawkins Day”, which is the first Saturday in November (why November instead of Feb, you ask?  Well, we’re not exactly sure, but if I had to guess, I would say that it has something to do with the US never wanting to do exactly what England did. Always gotta mix it up somehow). Sadie Hawkins was named after a character in the comic book strip Lil’ Abner.

So, with all that said, we’re lucky that the girls of today are no longer tied to this archaic customs of days past. But, it’s amazing how many women still wait and wait and WAIT for their man to propose, rather than take the reins in their own hands. I guess some traditions are hard to kick! But, if you’re an adventurous gal who has no problem taking initiative, you could always pick a proposal day of Feb 29 on Leap Year as a little throwback to the past. But, if you’re doing to do it, do it quick! This day only comes around once every four years, and we don’t want to have to wait another four years for your Rincon wedding!

Here’s to St. Brigette and her medieval girl power!

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