Every four years, February gets a 29th day — and while most celebrate by enjoying little more February in their lives, others take advantage of an old tradition to improve their love lives.
This Irish tradition, which dates back to the 5th century, says it’s appropriate for women to propose to their romantic partners on leap day, rather than waiting for their suitors to pop the question. The custom was started to help women who felt that their significant others were waiting too long to get engaged, Irish Central reports.
According to Irish legend, this tradition was started by St. Patrick after another of Ireland’s patron saints, St. Brigid of Kildare, complained that women were forced to wait too long for men to propose. (A researcher with the University College Dublin, however, once told The Irish Times she could not find evidence of the tradition’s origin in the institute’s National Folklore Collection.)
The practice was eventually brought over to Scotland by the late 13th century by Irish monks. At the time, a law was actually passed that allowed women to propose marriage in a leap year, and if the man refused, he would be subjected to a fine (which could range from a kiss to purchasing an item of clothing for the woman).
Fortunately, these days, women are allowed to propose marriage any day of any year in the United States. So if an unmarried girl misses her opportunity to take advantage of leap day, March 1st will work just as well.
Of course, the man is allowed to say no without having to deal with any sort of fine.