For most heterosexual females, popping the question is something they’d rather leave to their male counterpart. But to those who like to challenge the social norms, 2016 is their golden opportunity. As a leap year, 2016 is a great time for brides who want to follow in the tradition of asking their significant other to marry them on February 29th.

But where has this tradition come from? And is it really lucky? This is where the Cheltenham Park Hotel comes in. As one of the classiest wedding venues Cheltenham has to offer, the wedding team have been chowing down on hundreds of years of leap year history to give you their five most interesting leap year facts.

The Cheltenham Park Hotel - Reception

Why do we have leap years?

Each year seasons and astronomical events change by a fraction of day. This leads to calendars containing the same number of days per year to drift and essentially become inaccurate. By adding an extra day into the year every four years, the drift can be corrected. This drift just so happens to occur between February and March, hence why a 29th days is added to the end of February.

The Cheltenham Park Hotel - Reception

Where has the association with proposals come from?

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Different regions have different reasons as to why this association has occurred. In 1288, the unmarried Queen Margaret of Scotland created a law which allowed women to propose on a leap-year day. However, things were not that simple, women had to wear a red petticoat to warn her fellow gentleman that she was on the prowl for a husband. Across the North Channel, St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, supposedly approached St. Patrick and requested that he grants permission for women to propose marriage. At first he granted women permission to propose once every seven years, however at Brigid’s insistence, he conformed to allow proposals every leap day. It is believed that Brigid then got down onto one knee and asked St. Patrick to marry her; however he refused, kissed her on the cheek and gifted her with a silk gown. From that day forward the Irish tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal must gift her with a silk gown.

The Cheltenham Park Hotel - Reception

Why is proposing on a leap year deemed as good luck?

Where else could a luck linked connotation come from other than Ireland?! In Ireland, women were advised to propose on February 29th as the extra day was deemed to be lucky. It is believed that this luck would reduce the chances of divorce and endorse lifelong love.

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Is this tradition contradictorily to western attitudes to sexism?

As with many traditions, what was acceptable fifty years ago may not be acceptable in today’s society. Interestingly, while it may be quite obvious as to why women may be offended, it is fair to say that many women (even this year) will simply go along with the tradition as a novelty. But of course the idea that woman should only be allowed to propose on one specific day which only exists every four years can be deemed as a sexist and anti-feminist ideology.

Do leap year marriages last longer than non-leap year marriages?

Sorry ladies, there are no confirmed statistics which suggest that those who marry or get engaged in a leap year stay together longer than those who do not.

The Cheltenham Park Hotel - Reception

Don’t forget to take a look at Cheltenham Park Hotel, with a charming location and eye-catching architecture you won’t want to miss it!