Leaping at a Chance to Propose

Many different cultures around the world use leap years to determine whether a marriage is wise or foolish. Superstitious lovebirds take note: February 2016, with 29 days instead of the typical 28, has one extra day for you to mull over that proposal.

The BBC reports that it was the early Greeks who believed it unlucky to get married at any time during a leap year. Those marriages, they feared, would be doomed from the start. Many other cultures, however, saw leap years as the start to a long-lasting marriage.

Biographer Lois Shepheard tells of how Queen Margaret of Scotland, during her reign in the 13th century, granted women the right to propose to men on February 29. Any man who dared refuse a February 29 proposal could be fined by the scorned woman. Fines ranged from a kiss to the purchase of a new silk gown. The young queen could hardly have anticipated that her decree would establish a tradition that continues today.

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