Once in every four years is it deemed 'acceptable' for a woman to ask a man to marry her. February 29th apparently allows women to be freed from the usual marriage conventions. In this day and age when tradition in marriage often takes a back bench to happiness, shouldn't women feel free to pop the question any time? After all marriage — like most things - should start as it means to go on and a man making all the decisions is no way forward.
A women could wait and wait for a man to get down on bended knee, spending countless nights dreaming of the day - when in reality she could do something much more proactive and progressive and actually ask for what she wants herself.
The fact that the pressure is still on men seems somewhat outdated when all over the world people from different backgrounds are tying the knot on beaches, in fancy dress, and discarding traditions as and when it suites them. So why has this one tradition stuck so strongly in 'multicultural' England and where did it come from?
It is believed that in 5th century Ireland St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose, that St. Patrick then kindly offered February 29th as the one day women could be liberated from the bounding convention.
In English Law February 29th was ignored and had no legal status, therefore folks also assumed that traditions would have no status on the day. It was reasoned that since
the leap year day existed to fix a problem in the calendar, it could also be used to fix an old unjust custom that only let men propose marriage.
A recent poll found that fewer than one in 10 marriage proposals involved a woman going down, metaphorically speaking, on one knee. It is no wonder the number is so low if women do really believe that there is only one day every four years that they are allowed to pop the question.
A look at an online women's forum confirmed what I suspected - that most women seem to still want the traditional proposal scenario. But there were signs of women taking advantage of the leap year to make a move, one woman wrote: "I am planning on proposing to my boyfriend on February 29th! We are going away to Bath for the weekend and I have booked a table at a gorgeous restaurant. I have actually bought a ring but it is more a token gesture than an 'engagement' ring."