Why women propose on Leap Day and other Leap Year traditions

Go on, take the leap!
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  • Thinking of proposing to your man on Leap Day? You’re not alone – it’s still the most popular day for women to say ‘Will you marry me?’.

    In fact, trends suggest more women than ever before will pop the question on Leap Day 2020.

    A recent survey by Chillisauce showed just over half the women who would be willing to propose would do it on Leap Day, compared to only a quarter who’d propose on Valentine’s Day.

    But… it seems we’re still a nation of shrinking violets. Just three in 20 women (in heterosexual marriages) popped the question last year. Still, the good news for grooms-to-be is that’s three times more than 10 years ago.

    Why do women propose during a Leap Year?

    Well, you’ve an Irish nun to thank – St Bridget complained to St Patrick, no less, that the lads were a bit backward in coming forward and the lassies were waiting too long for their suitors to propose.

    So, they struck a deal. St Patrick decreed that on Leap Day in February, which occurs once every four years, women were allowed to propose. Why, thank you. How kind!


    How should you propose on Leap Day?

    Well, any way you like frankly but, for luck, wearing a red petticoat is the way to go.

    It’s a tradition that started in Scotland, seemingly to give the lads a signal of their intention. How many ran for the hills is unknown.

    But there were penalties for refusing – usually paid in a silk gown, fabric or gloves. Suddenly proposing seems like a good idea, no?


    Why do we have Leap Days?

    Nope, it’s not really to help us girls off the shelf – it’s actually all about the way the earth orbits the sun. It takes a little longer than 365 days, so every four years we get an extra day to make sure our calendar is in sync with the solar year.

    Is it ever a bad idea to propose on Leap Day?

    If you live in Greece, superstition dictates it’s unlucky to plan your wedding during a Leap year, especially on February 29.

    The Germans traditionally believe a Leap Year will be a cold year, while the Scots have a saying that a leap year is never a good sheep year. And in Taiwan, it’s believed to be a bad year for parents so married daughters cook them a special dish of pigs trotters to bring good luck.

    What other crazy things happen on Leap Day?

    • From 1932 until 1984, the women of Aurora, Illinois, took over the city council. Their goal? To arrest unmarried men for the crime of being single!

    • In France, a satirical newspaper called La Bougie Sapeur is published every Leap Year, named after an old French comic book character who was born on Leap Day. It started in 1980, making it the least frequently published newspaper of all time. Despite this, it sold 130,000 copies in 2016.

    • In 1988, Anthony in Texas was officially declared Leap Year Capital of the World. It was all down to the efforts of a woman called Mary Ann Brown who founded the World Wide Leap year Birthday Club there.

    And if you’re born on Leap Day?

    You get to be called a Leapling – how cute is that?