February 29th..... Leap Year
In keeping with the theme of nature gone awry, a whimsical tradition dating back at least four centuries holds that leap years confer upon women the "privilege" of proposing marriage to men instead of the other way around. The convention was (in literature, if not in reality) that any man who refused such a proposal owed his spurned suitor a silk gown and a kiss — provided she was wearing a red petticoat at the moment she popped the question.
The tradition of a woman proposing on a leap year has been attributed to various historical figures. One, although much disputed, was St Bridget in the 5th Century. She is said to have complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. St Patrick then supposedly gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question - the last day of the shortest month. Another popular story is that Queen Margaret of Scotland brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. Sceptics have pointed out that Margaret was five years old at the time and living far away in Norway. The saying is not said to have become commonplace until the 19th Century.
It is believed that the right of every woman to propose on this day goes back to the times when the leap year day was not recognised by English law. It was believed that if the day had no legal status, it was acceptable to break with tradition.