Friday, February 27, 2004

Lovers' leaps

Leap Day - Use it wisely!
When birthday floats, adapt
Extra day fine tunes our modern calendar
Ladies, if you're not sure how to spend Sunday, it's traditionally the day when women can ask their men to marry them.

According to legend, the whole thing started in Ireland in the 5th century when St. Brigid complained to St. Patrick that young women were wasting away waiting for their sweethearts to propose. St. Patrick, apparently busy scaring away snakes, suggested that women be allowed to propose on one day every four years: Feb. 29, or Leap Day.

There's little evidence the Irish took advantage of St. Patrick's decree. But in 1288, Scotland passed a law allowing women to propose to the man of their choice on Leap Day. The fine for men who refused such proposals ranged from a kiss to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves.

Cartoonist Al Capp took the tradition and ran with it when he debuted "Sadie Hawkins Day" in his Li'l Abner strip on Nov. 15, 1937. In the strip, Sadie Hawkins and other single gals in Dogpatch chased after the unmarried men. Whoever got caught got married. By 1939, more than 200 colleges around the nation were sponsoring "Sadie Hawkins" events, including races and dances, according to Life magazine.

Sadie, St. Patrick and St. Brigid might have been on to something: A 2003 survey by Korbel Champagne Cellars found that 65 percent of Americans like the idea of women popping the questions, and 77 percent of men find the idea socially acceptable - compared to only 63 percent of women.

Source: Enquirer research

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