Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day

Happy February 29th. Welcome to a day that appears on our calendars once every four years. Leap year (the year including February 29th) is the year of presidential elections and the summer Olympics.

Folk tradition says in past centuries it was acceptable for women to make a marriage proposal to their love during a leap year. Apparently, the powers that be thought this gave women too much power because the period of sanctioned female-initiated proposals was shortened to only one day, February 29th.

This may be in response to men’s ire over a 13th century law that fined men who refused a marriage proposal. Their imposed penalties could include any of the following: a kiss, cold hard cash, or a silk dress. This was supposed to make the woman feel better. I wonder if the spurned woman chose the item. Maybe some ladies were just as happy with a new dress.

To give the fellows fair warning, a woman with a proposal on her mind was supposed to wear a scarlet petticoat (one that showed beneath the skirt I presume) to let any men in the vicinity know some lucky or unlucky man was about to be the recipient of a marriage proposal.

A writer friend and I were talking yesterday about things that spark story ideas for us. These type of fun facts often make ideas start to pop for me. What works for you?


Farrah Rochon said...

What great facts about Leap Day! You're right, those are some great idea generators.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint what sparks an idea for me. With Deliver Me (and eventually the entire series) it all started with a commercial I heard on the radio. With the new book (hopefully series) I'm writing, the heroine's name popped into my head, and it alone spawned the idea for the entire book. You'll know what I'm talking about when you find out the heroine's name. :)

Have a great leap day!


Shauna Roberts said...

All sorts of things spark ideas for me—nonfiction books, television documentaries, folksongs, dreams, things that happen to me.

I enjoyed the folklore about Leap Day. I can imagine some women going out and proposing to several obviously incompatible men just to collect the consolation prize goodies. (Hey! there's an idea for a romance novel—what if one of the unsuitable men accepted?)

My parents got married on Leap Day. I used to scandalize my friends as a child by telling them my parents had only had three anniversaries.

Sphinx Ink said...

Hah! You scooped me on the Leap Day blog entry. But you had a lot more facts than I would have posted...I hadn't bothered to research it, was just going to comment on the female-proposing aspect. Good entry.

Rae Ann Parker said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed the Leap Day facts.

Farrah, I can't wait, I mean, I can hardly wait to hear the name of your new heroine.

Shauna, I love that idea for a novel. Any historical fiction writers here?