Illustration: Maurice Vellekoop
Getting antsy waiting for your beau to pop the question? Well, today is your lucky day. According to folklore, if a woman asks a man to marry on February 29, he must say yes or buy her a silk gown (win-win!).
Legend has it that the Irish nun St. Brigid asked St. Patrick to allow women the right to propose marriage on leap year. Another story involves Queen Margaret of Scotland fining men who refuse a proposal on said day. Regardless of how it all got started, you've got a chance to cement it.
"One hundred years ago, men would rather have given women the right to vote than the right to pick husbands," says Katherine Parkin, associate professor of history at Monmouth University. Although old habits may be hard to break, perhaps we could learn from the folks across the pond, who treat the day with carnival-like flair. Some companies even offer contests to send lucky couples on an Antigua honeymoon.
Women have already broken a lot of archaic stereotypes, and certainly exercise enough power in their lives. "I don't understand why they continue to allow themselves to be left waiting," adds Parkin. So if you're feeling cheeky, today may be a good day to act.
Even if you're already engaged, take it as an opportunity to ask your fiance for a hand in...dinner, movies, or any other quixotic endeavor. Show some initiative in the romance department. We even give you the OK to splurge on a lovely silk dress for the occasion.