February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years,
and is called leap year day.
This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure,
because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days.
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history,
St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men
-and not just the other way around – every 4 years.
This is believed to have been introduced
to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way
to how Leap Day balances the calendar.
In some places,
Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason.
A man was expected to pay a penalty,
such as a gown or money,
if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.
In many European countries,
especially in the upper classes of society,
tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29
has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves.
The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves
to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.
During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.