When I saw this article in the New York Times, I was reminded of that utterly ridiculous movie, Leap Year, which has a a young woman flying to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend, being diverted to Wales, and taking a boat to—wait for it—Cork, which is then diverted to Dingle (what?). This alone makes no sense, as planes coming from the States fly over Shannon (in the west) first; a storm big enough to close Dublin Airport would have all of Ireland socked in; a look at a map will explain some of my disdain.
When I was in Dingle with my sis some years ago, she wanted to find the pub where the movie was filmed, which was when I had to break it to her that no part of the movie was actually filmed in Dingle. (Not that that would have helped, as much as I love Amy Adams.)
Supposedly this leap year legend is a tradition that goes way back. According to the Huffington Post,
Legend has it that St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Initially, he granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but at Brigid’s insistence, he acquiesced and allowed proposals every leap day. The folk tale suggests that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow. The Irish tradition therefore dictates that any man refusing a woman’s leap-day proposal must give her a silk gown.
But really? There’s no definitive proof of any of it. I personally can’t imagine either of these saints having this sort of conversation.
Moreover, I don’t think we ladies need permission from society to do the asking. It’s the twenty-first century, kids! This article in the Irish Times has several stories about women doing the proposing. It doesn’t surprise me, since, as the writer points out:
The notion of marriage has changed in Ireland. It’s only a generation ago that it was unacceptable to live with a partner without being married to them. Though we have some distance to go on many issues, it’s undeniable that we have become a much more tolerant and equal society, even in the past 20 years. As a nation, the majority voted for marriage equality last May. That must mean we’re ready to take the proposals of women seriously, even outside a leap year, right?
True. It’s a lovely article, and I recommend it to you. And should it encourage you to pop the question to the one you love, let me be the first congratulate you!