This Saturday is February 29th or Leap Day, the once-every-four-years opportunity for women all over the world to propose to the men in their lives, but how many women will be taking advantage of the traditional loop hole?
When it comes to popping the question, the boy-asks-girl model seems to be holding firm for straight couples, but with strides being made in the strive for equality experts are predicting more women could take the plunge and ask their other halves to marry them this leap year.
Where does the leap year tradition come from?
Legend has it that ‘The Ladies’ Privilege,’ as it was known then, originated in the fifth century when an Irish nun called St Brigid complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose.
St Patrick suggested that women could ask the marriage question, but only every four years.
What’s more it is believed should women want to take up the opportunity to propose, they were expected to have to wear either breeches or a scarlet petticoat to signal their intention. (Potential proposers take note!)
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Fast forward a few centuries and it seems women are still using this bit of folklore as an opportunity to get down on one knee and ask for their partner’s hand in marriage, but not everyone thinks the tradition is a good one.
A survey for Lovehoney, revealed that 35% of women say the idea that February 29 is the one day when they can propose is sexist.
Further results from eharmony reveal that more than a third of people in the UK agree women have as much right as men to pop the question, with more men than woman agreeing on this point.
It might take some time to completely reverse the boy-asks-girl mindset, however, with almost a third of women admitting to still feeling it’s a man’s job to propose.
But in a time where the #MeToo movement has led to women feeling more empowered and decisive, could it be time to flip the rule that a marriage proposal should always be driven by men?
It certainly seems like change could be on the horizon searches for 'Leap Year proposal' have increased by 80% since the beginning of the year, suggesting more women could be looking to pop the question this leap year.
In fact, new research by financial comparison experts money.co.uk has revealed a third of unmarried women in relationships are considering a leap year proposal on February 29 this year, with one in four claiming they are fed up of waiting for their partner to get down on one knee.
Why women should consider proposing
“In todays world where there should be equality, where we welcome more diversity, the question is why wouldn't women consider proposing?” argues Bernadette Chapman, founder of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP).
“In a way the view of only the man proposing is archaic and not relevant for 2020. So regardless of sex, if you love your partner, and want to spend the rest of your life with them, then absolutely you should propose!”
Dating and relationship expert Clarissa Bloom believes the whole concept of waiting for a man to propose is somewhat old-fashioned. “Why should the guy be the one to play the dominant role?” she asks. “The entire wedding system is incredibly outdated, based around a concept of being given away, so why shouldn't it now be seen as a mutual opportunity to propose?”
Bloom says there are some benefits for would-be brides in taking up the proposal mantle.
“Taking control and planning out your proposal is exciting and empowering,” she says. “Women shouldn't feel ashamed to perform this act of romance.
“In many LGBTQ weddings, it has become commonplace for both to propose, taking turns and both buying an engagement ring for each other, which I find beautiful.”
Chapman says there are some other valid reasons you might want to take charge of the proposing.
“For women who are the more dominant one in a relationship and actually enjoys this role it can feel quite natural to take this act into their own hands,” she says.
“The other benefit is the woman will get the proposal she wants as of course every detail has been planned by her!”
Of course, a clear pitfall is not knowing how your other half will respond.
“You are trying to portray your love and affection for them, but for many the reversal of this role could play on their masculinity or an insecurity,” Bloom warns.
“This isn't something we should stick our noses up at, it's understandable that people can be sensitive about a certain subject, which is why it can be worth talking about in advance about how they would feel.
“For this same reason, you might not want to drop down to one knee in a public place if they are susceptible to being shy in front of others or they tend to have a higher sensitivity to this subject.
“If they truly love you then they will see this as an act of love, bringing you two together forever,” she adds.
And according to research from The Stag Company many men are actually pretty open to the idea of being proposed to.
When asked if they’d appreciate their other half dropping down on one knee, 38% said yes.
However, when the data was changed to just include those that stated they were in a ‘relationship, not married’, that number grew to 67%!
So, it seems there may be a few men who are hoping for someone to do the asking on the 29th.
Read more: Would you buy your own engagement ring?
How to pull off a leap day proposal
Thinking of popping the question this leap day? Yahoo UK spoke to creative wedding planner and designer Andri Benson for her top tips in making sure your proposal ends with a cork popping.
Think about how you want your proposal to look
“If you do want to embrace the Leap Year tradition to propose, think carefully about how you want everything to look and feel,” Benson suggests. “Do you want it to be special to the two of you? Have you thought about having a photographer to be present to capture the special moment? Do you want to have a ring ready for the proposal?”
Private V Public
While some will positively relish a PDE (Public Declaration of Engagement), for other Insta-phobes getting down on one knee in a public place could be a nightmare.
“Ask yourself if your partner would want to keep the moment private as just the two of you or love having family and friends to share the moment with?” Benson says. “Maybe a combination of the two will work well for you – ask in private but celebrate with friends and family afterwards.
“If you want to do an outdoor proposal, make sure you have a backup plan for an indoor venue too, especially at this time of year when you're not sure what the weather will be doing,” she adds.
Consider a ‘men-gagement’ ring
Just as a woman would likely hope for a sparkler with her proposal, so might a man. According to money.co.uk there has been a rise in women buying engagement rings for their men, with 55% of women saying they would propose to their partner with one.
"We have seen a rapid rise in the amount of women buying engagement rings for their male partner in the last year or two,” explains Anne Rowson, a jewellery design expert. “These rings for men are now very much a trend and we predict that this will continue to rise over the coming years. Many jewellers are even preparing their own range of men-gagement rings.”