February 29 – Time to put a ring on it?

Yes, 2016 is a leap year. This means that February 29 is traditionally a time when women can get down on bended knee, or commission a sky writer, to propose to the man in their life.

And yes, it’s 2016, and women can propose to whomever they wish, whenever they wish, should they have the courage and the cash (because I assume you have to buy your own ring, right?).

But I love a bit of history, so I had a dig around and discovered that this Irish tradition actually dates back to the 5th century when women were apparently sick of waiting around for men to propose. So they lobbied the great snake slayer, St Patrick who decreed that women would be permitted to propose to men on, you guessed it, February 29 in a leap year.

The concept was exported to Scotland by monks, who I wouldn’t have thought would care, and Scotland passed it into law. Details get sketchy here so stay with me, the unmarried Queen Margaret allegedly passed the law, although she would have been five and probs too young to be labelled with the spinster tag.

Not only did a woman have to wear a red petticoat when proposing on this day, but men who refused their proposal were liable to pay a fine to the lady in question. This could be anything from a kiss to buying your spurned would be lover a pair of gloves (to hide their shame of not wearing a ring).

So, all the single ladies (who aren’t really single are they, because they’re already in a relationship) who want to put a ring on it this Feb 29, start limbering up to make that all important lunge.

For everyone else, well, this kind of pointless knowledge is exactly the sort of thing that might see you win the pub quiz one day.