The Ladies Privilege

The Ladies Privilege


The ladies privilege relates to 29th February, where tradition states that on this day women can propose marriage to a man.

In the 5th century St Bridget from Ireland complained to St Patrick about women having to wait for the men to propose. So according to legend St Patrick replied that on the 29th February women can propose to the man of her choice.

The right for women to propose on this date goes back many hundreds of years to when the leap year day had no recognition in English law so had no legal status. People assumed that tradition would also have no status on that day. It was also reasoned that the leap year was to fix a problem with the calendar so could be used to fix an old and unjust custom that only let men propose marriage.

In 1288 Scotland passed a law that allowed women to propose marriage to the man of the choice, the law also went on to state that if the man turned down the proposal he could be fined the range of fines are from a kiss to payment of a silk dress or a pair of gloves.

The legend spread around the world and soon there were many leap year balls and leap year dances. Women could ask the men to the dance and then ask him for his hand in marriage.

In today’s society the general rule is that it is the man who does the asking, but it is becoming more common for the women to ask the man; feminism at its most useful.

A postcard which ladies sent on leap year.


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