Tradition behind women proposing on a leap year – and the get-out clause for men

Although the expectation of men having to be the ones to get down on one knee is a bit old fashioned now, the tradition remains that leap years offer women the chance to take full control.

And fortunately for anyone getting sick of their man dragging their feet, 2020 offers the perfect chance for you to hurry those wedding plans along.

Although our calendars contain 365 days in a year, the earth actually takes roughly 365.25 days to orbit the sun – giving the need to include an extra day once every four years to keep things consistent.

One such day will occur this month when February is given 29 days as opposed to 28, and women around the world will take the opportunity to flip the traditional proposal on its head.

But how did it all start?


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Women proposing on leap days is believed to date back to the 5th century and an Irish nun called St Bridget.

Sick of women having to wait around for their man to pull their act together and propose, she lobbied St Patrick to allow women to do it instead.

And she was successful. Ish. He gave her one day. Every four years.


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But it's said that the agreement was considered a huge win and women were handed control once every 1,461 days.

The tradition goes that St Patrick weaved in a small requirement in the terms and conditions, designed to warn men who weren't keen on getting to the alter anytime soon of what may be about to happen.

Rules states that women had to wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat if they were planning on producing a ring – giving men advanced notice if they wanted to leg it.

Interestingly, a survey of 2,700 people by Lovehoney found more than a quarter of women said they would propose on a leap year.

With famous examples of women asking for their partner's hand in marriage including Bella Mackie and Radio 1 DJ Greg James, 27 per cent said they would do the same.

More than a third thought the whole idea was outdated and sexist, but 48 per cent were happy with the tradition.

Two-thirds of those asked said they would be happy to be proposed to on Leap Year Day – so what are you waiting for?

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