Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Fun

It's Leap Year Day! This is exciting enough for us in the present day, but imagine in the years of yore when Leap Year signified a time when women were allowed to propose marriage to men! 

That's right. According to tradition, every four years, the shoe was worn on the other foot, and women could pop the question.

An Eagle article from March 3, 1888 explained in the ins and outs of this custom:

In three years out of every four, man has the privilege of "popping the question," and the annoyance of sometimes having a plainspoken "no" for the reply. On the fourth year, woman may propose, if it so please her.
 A lady has the privilege in Leap Year of suggesting marriage between herself and a bachelor acquaintance. In the event of his refusing, the penalty is that the ungallant gentleman shall present the tender damsel with a new silk dress. 
There is a reservation, however, that the right to claim this penalty depends on the circumstance that when she propose, the damsel was the wearer of a scarlet petticoat, which (or a little of the lower portion of which) she must exhibit to the gentleman, the understood idea being that the silken dress shall cover the petticoat and thus assuage dire feminine indignation at the rejection of her offered hand.

So, gentleman. Enjoy your Leap Year and be wary of scarlet underpants.

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