The Complete Guide To Leap Years and Women Proposing To Men

We’re all familiar with the handy mnemonic that helps us remember how many days there are in each month:


Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November;

All the rest have thirty-one,

Excepting February alone

Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine,

Till leap year gives it twenty-nine.


But why does poor old February miss out? Why do we need an extra day each leap year? How often do leap years occur?


Leap Year Facts


We need leap years to help keep the modern calendar on track with the actual length of a solar year. While a standard calendar year has 365 days, one revolution of the Earth around the Sun actually takes exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. Hipparchus had this pretty much all figured out in the 2nd century BC, but when Julius Caesar (and his astronomical adviser, Sosigenes) redesigned his Julian calendar, he decided those 5 hours and 50-odd minutes were close enough to a quarter of a day. So, he added one extra day to the calendar every four years. The Roman emperor had the authority to add in whatever extra days he wanted at the end of February (the end of the Roman year) so Caesar probably wasn’t too concerned about the calendar not lining up exactly right.


A lot of people today still think a leap year occurs every four years. That’s not quite correct. While it took until 1582 before the Catholic Church decided to do something about the inaccuracy of Caesar’s Julian calendar, they eventually adopted the Gregorian calendar so that we don’t quite get a leap year every four years. To account for that extra 11 minutes and 14 seconds, the Gregorian calendar reform added the variation so that years that are divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day unless they are also divisible by 400.


With the help of modern science, we even get ‘leap seconds’. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service have the job of keeping our clocks exactly right by adding a single second to global standard time. We’ve had 27 leap seconds added since 1972. The next leap second is scheduled for midnight 30 June 2020.


Thankfully, most of us probably just use our Google calendar to remind us how many days there are in the month. But the vagaries of the leap year, and our love of superstitions, has meant that we have lots of quirky leap year traditions.


Women Proposing To Men In A Leap Year


Some of the best leap year traditions revolve around romance and marriage. Because a leap year day had no recognition in medieval English law (the day was essentially ‘leapt over’ and ignored) someone decided that it was the perfect day to break the established rules and go against tradition. Always happy to run with a novel idea, the Irish jumped on board and decided that on February 29th it would be perfectly acceptable for a woman to propose to a man! Oh, the scandal!


That one day in February each leap year was the opportunity for women to take charge in romance without being seen as desperate or unfeminine. Folktales tell us that the gender-role-bending rule came with a few extra provisos. The bold woman had to wear a red petticoat while proposing, and any man who refused had to fork out for gloves or a silk gown by way of apology.


The idea of a one-day romantic revolution took off in America in the 1800s, and we soon had a tradition of ‘leap year dances’ where men sat and waited patiently to be asked to dance by a forward-thinking woman. In the early 1900s, it took an odd twist. Apparently, not only could women be the romantic aggressors on February 29th, but they could also take on positions of authority! Imagine that! In Illinois, the city council decided for that one day of the year, the regular way of things could be disrupted. Not only could women propose to men, they could be temporarily appointed as council members, police officers, or firefighters – but only with the mission of finding their man!


Women proposing to men was encouraged and jokingly promoted. Each leap year, February 29th gave women a chance to use their one day of power to jokingly arrest men and flirt their way to a marriage proposal. It took until 1984 for the American city to decide the outdated and sexist stereotype had probably run its course. The leap year tradition gave some women the chance to take control of their romantic endeavours but didn’t do much overall to encourage equality through women proposing to men. True romantic freedom was still a while off for some women.


Women Proposing To Men in 2020


While it’s perfectly acceptable for women to make the first move or propose marriage on any day of the year, February 29 still provides women with the extra bit of encouragement they might need to get down on one knee and pop the question. And, if you’re really digging deep for that extra courage required to make the first move, don’t forget that not only is 2020 a leap year with an extra day on February 29th, we also get an extra leap second later in 2020. That means it’s now twice as acceptable for a woman to take a romantic leap of faith and ask for her man’s hand in marriage in 2020! What are you waiting for?


Planning The Perfect Proposal


We totally understand if you’re not the type of woman just to blurt out a marriage proposal. It’s a big moment, and you want to be prepared! You’ll always remember your marriage proposal, so there’s going to be some pressure to get the big moment just right.


The perfect marriage proposal is as unique as your relationship. But every woman proposing to her man wants to make him feel loved and valued. A special marriage proposal should honour your existing relationship while also look to the future of your married life together. Planning the occasion is also a great way to settle your nerves. The place to start when planning to propose to your boyfriend is setting the scene for your big question with a romantic gesture and a proposal gift.


You don’t need a ring to propose, but it is nice to offer a personal proposal gift as a token of your love. Great proposal gift ideas include a keepsake memento to remind you of the day you proposed. When you are old and grey together, you can look back at a gorgeous crystal figurine or special photo frame that captures the memory of the day. Men’s jewellery, an engraved watch, or a fine leather gift are all wonderful proposal gift ideas for men.


If you’re more interested in creative ideas for proposing to a man rather than a physical gift, you can create a romantic occasion with a couple’s experience or romantic gift hamper. Set the scene for your proposal with a private and romantic picnic lunch. If you are a woman thinking about proposing to your man, a sunset wine tour is a gorgeous way to pop the question! If you’re more of a daredevil and want to make a big impression, a marriage proposal while tandem skydiving is something he’ll never forget!


If grand gestures or a lot of attention isn’t something your man would appreciate during a marriage proposal, a special gift hamper is the best idea for a way to make your marriage proposal special. Choose a romantic hamper with a bottle of champagne, chocolates, and his favourite nibbles. Champagne hampers for a marriage proposal is a classic romantic gesture that will make any picnic a special occasion.


Are you Ready to Propose to Your Boyfriend?


It’s no longer unusual for women to propose to their significant others. So, ladies, be bold! Get yourself a special proposal gift and create a romantic occasion you’ll both remember! If you need inspiration to make your marriage proposal special, browse the range of romantic gifts, couple’s experiences, and champagne hampers at Gifts Australia. We love helping women find great proposal gift ideas for their man!


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