Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day Celebration (aka How to get a new wardrobe)

Feb. 29: A day for women to claim their prerogative
Nina Petersen-Perlman Duluth News Tribune
Published Friday, February 29, 2008


For presidential candidates, it’s a gift of an extra 24 hours to convince voters to support them. For business owners, it’s one more day to make profits. For marketers, it’s yet another holiday that can be promoted with product tie-ins.

And, according to folklore, Leap Year Day is women’s chance to pop the question.

Carol Mead, coordinator of the Lake Superior Singles Fellowship, said she knew about the tradition when she planned a Leap Year singles potluck for tonight.

“I joked and I said the guys better run or the women are going to get lucky,” she said. “I don’t know if the women are going to be happy about that.”

The legend is said to have started in fifth-century Ireland, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose. St. Patrick acquiesced, and decreed that women could have one day in February during a leap year for a Sadie Hawkins-esque role reversal.

To make it truly a win-win situation, St. Patrick also decided that should a woman be refused, the male would have to pay a fine or give her a beautiful garment.

Renee Goman, a consultant at Princess Bride in Duluth, said she doesn’t think that penance would be paid in today’s world.

“I don’t think the men would do it, but women would enjoy it,” Goman said, laughing. “I’d be OK with it.”

Goman and several other bridal consultants in the area said they could not recall ever hearing of a woman-asks-man proposal from their customers, and definitely not anyone who had decided to follow the Leap Day tradition.

According to the journal Sex Roles, which surveyed students at Midwestern colleges, “commonly accepted, traditional elements” still rule how people perceive relationships. The more traditional elements of a proposal, such as a man asking a woman on bended knee, make others more likely to see the relationship as strong.

Though not many have heard of this tradition today, it seems to have been common knowledge a century ago. In a 1904 column entitled “Leap Year Proposal” in the New York Times, popular relationship columnist Dorothy Dix advised women on how to prepare for the “ticklish job” that is asking a man for his hand.

“There are times when a man is rushed, or tired, or hungry, when it is simply courting disaster to ask him anything, and when he would refuse a free passport to heaven if it were tendered him on a silver salver,” she cautioned.

Hunger won’t be an issue at the single’s fellowship potluck, which starts at 6 p.m. at United Presbyterian Church in Superior, 229 N. 28th St. All area singles are welcome, but they should bring a dish to share, Mead said.

1 comment:

Jenean said...

Interesting little tidbit :)