Leap Year Proposals

It’s Leap Year Day! I wonder how many of you ladies are planning leap year proposals?

It is thought that this tradition harks back to the days when the leap year day was not recognised under English law. As it had no legal status, it was considered acceptable to break with the convention that it should be the man doing the proposing.

This custom is quite wide-spread and encompasses Scandinavia as well as Great Britain. However, in Greece they have a variation on the theme – they believe that a leap year marriage is likely to end in divorce.

 

In Denmark the day in question for a woman to propose to the man is the 24th, not the 29th, February (supposedly, this goes back to the time of the Ancient Romans, but that’s all I have found out!). If the man rejects the proposal, he is meant to give the jilted lady twelve pairs of gloves! Why twelve, I wonder?! (Another mystery!)

In Finland they also have a forfeit: the man is bound to supply enough fabric for his rejected lady to make a skirt.

In Ireland, a man refusing the lady on leap year day has to give her a silk gown. Apparently, the custom originated in the fifth century. A nun, St Brigid of Kildare, heard complaints that men were too shy to propose. She asked St Patrick to give permission for females to do the proposing. Initially, he allowed it once every seven years, but later relented, and allowed proposals every leap year day.

In Scotland, the unmarried Queen Margaret supposedly passed a law in 1288 to allow women to propose on leap year day. They did have to wear a red petticoat by way of alerting the men, though!

But why is February such a short month (even if it’s a bit longer this year)?

Roman months originally had 29, 30 or 31 days, but when Augustus became emperor, he felt aggrieved that his month only had 29 days, whereas July (Julius Caesar’s month) had 31 days. He stole two days from February to bring August up to 31. You can do things like that, if you’re Emperor!

Finally, a prayer has been composed by the Archdeacon of Norwich, the Venerable Jan McFarlane, for people planning a leap year marriage proposal:

“God of love, please bless N and N as they prepare for the commitment of marriage. May the plans for the wedding not overtake the more important preparation for their lifetime together. Please bless their family and friends as they prepare for this special day and may your blessing be upon them now and always. Amen.”

If you do propose to your beloved, ladies, please let me know how you get on. Remember that, as a civil celebrant, I may be the next person you will want to contact when you plan your wedding!

 

 

Leap Year Proposals

We’re a few days away from Leap Year. I wonder how many ladies are planning leap year proposals?

It is thought that this tradition harks back to the days when the leap year day was not recognised under English law. As it had no legal status, it was considered acceptable to break with the convention that it should be the man doing the proposing.

This custom is quite wide-spread and encompasses Scandinavia as well as Great Britain. However, in Greece they have a variation on the theme – they believe that a leap year marriage is likely to end in divorce.

 

In Denmark the day in question for a woman to propose to the man is the 24th, not the 29th, February (supposedly, this goes back to the time of the Ancient Romans, but that’s all I have found out!). If the man rejects the proposal, he is meant to give the jilted lady twelve pairs of gloves! Why twelve, I wonder?! (Another mystery!)

In Finland they also have a forfeit: the man is bound to supply enough fabric for his rejected lady to make a skirt.

In Ireland, a man refusing the lady on leap year day has to give her a silk gown. Apparently, the custom originated in the fifth century. A nun, St Brigid of Kildare, heard complaints that men were too shy to propose. She asked St Patrick to give permission for females to do the proposing. Initially, he allowed it once every seven years, but later relented, and allowed proposals every leap year day.

In Scotland, the unmarried Queen Margaret supposedly passed a law in 1288 to allow women to propose on leap year day. They did have to wear a red petticoat by way of alerting the men, though!

But why is February such a short month (even if it’s a bit longer this year)?

Roman months originally had 29, 30 or 31 days, but when Augustus became emperor, he felt aggrieved that his month only had 29 days, whereas July (Julius Caesar’s month) had 31 days. He stole two days from February to bring August up to 31. You can do things like that, if you’re Emperor!

Finally, a prayer has been composed by the Archdeacon of Norwich, the Venerable Jan McFarlane, for people planning a leap year marriage proposal:

“God of love, please bless N and N as they prepare for the commitment of marriage. May the plans for the wedding not overtake the more important preparation for their lifetime together. Please bless their family and friends as they prepare for this special day and may your blessing be upon them now and always. Amen.”

 


Valentine s Day

Ever the romantic, I couldn’t resist a bonus blog about Valentine s Day.

History

Its origins spring from the imprisonment of a certain Valentine by the Ancient Romans for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians (who were being persecuted).

Source: www.history.com

You can probably see the connection, although you need a bit of imagination to make the leap to 21st century celebrations of Valentine s Day!

Modern day

Yes, I know I’m cynical, but, let’s face it, nowadays it is a chance for florists, card-makers, vintners, chocolatiers and restaurateurs to put their prices up.
More romantically, though, it is the most popular day for women to receive wedding proposals (although men prefer Christmas Eve). Let’s look at how to go about making a proposal.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

The proposal

Of course there are all sorts of ways of proposing. Some will choose to accompany the proposal with a Valentine s Day gift.

In the vast majority of cases, you will want to choose a quiet venue – a booked table in a nice, intimate restaurant may do the trick. Soft music and subdued lighting should provide a suitable atmosphere.

Alternatively, the setting can be the home – perhaps to the accompaniment of a lovely meal (a dish you both enjoy!) and a certain amount of champagne! A proposal over a chocolate pudding often works well.

You can mention the romance of the day and how much it has encouraged you to express your love – but, naturally,  it’s got to be down to you what to say.

In truth, I didn’t propose on Valentine s Day (I chose an Italian garden in July!), but it was romantic and that’s key.

Make it a special day and enjoy it!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.