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?