Why you should propose to your man tonight

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Why you should propose to your man tonight
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in a scene from The Proposal.

Folklore dictates that on February 29 — the special 'leap-day' that comes but once every four years — the traditional rules of marriage proposals are thrown out the window and women can get down on one knee.

The role-reversing deal is believed to have been struck between St Patrick and St Bridget during the fifth century, to the great relief of shy men and opportunistic single ladies who would hold their breath as long as four years for a chance to take charge and seal the deal with their partner.

Related: Woman proposes to boyfriend on leap year

Though this may seem like an archaic and irrelevant tradition these days when men and women have grown more equal in their roles in relationships, according to Cosmo Bride editor Franki Hobson, women still aren't lining up to get down on one knee.

"We don't see weddings where the woman has proposed and if we did it would be a real talking point, generally it's still the guy who proposed to the female," she says.

Franki thinks today's young women still prefer male-initiated proposals because they are one of the few remaining traditions associated with modern marriage.

"Generally for this generation, when a couple gets engaged they both know it's going to happen and there's very little spontaneity," she says.

"It's all very businesslike, discussing logistics and values before a bride and groom decide to move forward together, but they can redeem some of that tradition by him proposing and bringing back some old-world romance," she says.

Australian etiquette queen and former Australian Women's Weekly editor Ita Buttrose thinks it's time women took a more active role in initiating proposals.

"I think love is love and it doesn't really matter which one pops the question," she says.

"Men are always shy about these things too, and women tend to be more hopeful, so why shouldn't they propose?

"If a woman wants to propose to her partner she should do it today, and let this be the start of the new equality revolution!" Ita says.

And not only would a female proposal be a statement of equality, Ita says it would also be a great surprise to most men.

"The poor little possums are frightened of us already, if all of a sudden we just asked 'Marry me, darling' they wouldn't know what to do!"

While she's all for breaking tradition, Ita is a big believer in a romantic proposal.

"I think if you're going to propose you want to make it special, positive and romantic," she says. "I'm a fan of writing someone's name in the sky, or at least taking them out for a nice dinner before popping the question."

Related: Men are not dying out

Also, ladies, it's worth noting that in many European traditions any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 must compensate her with 12 pairs of gloves, a symbolic gift to cover the shame of a bare ring finger.

So if you are thinking of getting down on one knee tonight, take Ita's advice, and know you've got nothing to lose.

Elizabeth Burke is The Weekly's youngest writer. Click here to follow her on Twitter and here to follow The Weekly.

Your say: Would you ever propose to your boyfriend?

Video: Leap day engagements and birthdays

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