There are many traditions about Leap Year which say that women may propose to men on February 29. Many countries had specific penalties if the proposal was refused, so it was a win-win situation for the woman – she either got a husband or leather gloves, roses, enough fabric to make a skirt or a silk gown, for example. In some parts of Europe the fine was twelve pairs of gloves, assuming the woman would need a lot of gloves to wear to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. The Sadie Hawkins Day tradition originated in the Li’l Abner comic strip and inspired “real world” Sadie Hawkins dances, where the girls asked the boys out. Sometimes the Sadie Hawkins idea gets intertwined with Leap Year, as in this ad for a dance in Beaverlodge in a leap year.
Researched & written by Kathryn Auger