Leap day has been full of odd traditions and folklore ever since it first began over 2000 years ago, many of which revolve around love and marriage. For example, in Greece and some other European countries it’s seen as unlucky to marry during a leap year. It’s especially unlucky on a leap day. However, there is one tradition which originated in Ireland that stands out the most, and makes us appreciate the modern world that we’re living in!
According to one Irish legend, St. Brigid made a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose on leap day. It’s believed this was done to balance the gender roles in society, the same way that the leap day balanced out the calendar. St. Brigid proposed to St. Patrick on leap day, and he turned her down but offered her a silk gown to console her.
This began the tradition of men having to pay a penalty if they turn down a proposal. This can include a kiss, dress, money, or most commonly gloves. Gloves would hide her embarrassment from not having an engagement ring. In the middle ages there was a law governing this. If a man refused a proposal on a leap day, especially in the upper classes, he had to buy her twelve pairs of gloves.