Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

A giant leap for man

February 29 rites might seem anachronistic but there are advantages to the leap day
How many would-be wives take advantage of proposing on February 29? (Pawan Singh / The National)
How many would-be wives take advantage of proposing on February 29? (Pawan Singh / The National)

We’d like to wish an especially happy birthday to everyone born on February 29. After all, they only get to celebrate on their actual birthdate every four years, thanks to the quadrennial adjustment of the calendar to ensure the seasons remain in step with the date.

It’s not surprising that an entire catalogue of traditions has sprung up around this date. The most famous is the supposed pact between saints Patrick and Brigid in Ireland, allowing women to propose marriage to men on this day. In the modern world with much greater gender equality, that tradition seems as outdated as the plot of a Doris Day movie.

Any ungrateful man who turned down such an invitation was required to pay a penalty, variously described as a silk dress or several pairs of gloves. But for any man who took up the offer with immediate effect, there was a plus: he would only have to remember his wedding anniversary every four years.

Updated: February 28, 2016 04:00 AM

SHARE

SHARE