Leap Year and the Victorian Ladies’ Prerogative

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Eleanor Rose

Captain
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Nov 26, 2016
Location
central NC
-year-humor.-in-color.-clever-thread-advertisement.jpg

Victorian Leap Year humor, as part of an advertisement for thread. (Public Domain)
In the 19th century, Leap Year provided the opportunity for the reversal of roles between the “fairer sex” and gentlemen. On February 29th, a lady had the prerogative to propose marriage to the man whom her heart had chosen but she had not yet been able to motivate to pop the question. It went something like this:
Rules for Leap Year Parties​

  1. Ladies will call for the gentlemen promptly at 8 o’clock. Those who keep their escorts waiting, and are consequently late at the party, will be treated for the remainder of the evening as wallflowers.
  2. The gents will be expected to behave in the most lady-like manner.
  3. Gentlemen are to bring to the ball a fan, a corsage bouquet, and smelling salts.
  4. The gentlemen whose bouquet is not crushed in the first dance will be a witness to the fact that he has been held with propriety.
  5. No gentleman shall cross the floor without a lady attendant.
  6. If a gentleman goes for a glass of water unattended by a lady the floor managers will at once declare him out of order, and compel him to be seated.
  7. Gents are expected to be languid, to drop their handkerchiefs as often as possible, make frequent calls for water, and at supper give the ladies no time for eating.
  8. The ladies who have been snubbed at dances heretofore will claim the greatest number of dances, and those who have been active society belles will let the gentlemen severely alone.
Published by The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY in 1888.​

According to an article entitled, Leap Year: Ladies’ law in Leap Year–Bachelors’ Penalty, that was published in The Weekly Kansas Chief newspaper on January 21, 1892:

A lady has the privilege in leap year of suggesting marriage between herself and a bachelor acquaintance. In the event of his refusing, the penalty is that the ungallant gentleman shall present the tender damsel with a new silk dress. There is a reservation, however, that the right to claim this penalty depends upon the circumstances that, when she proposed, the damsel was the wearer of a scarlet petticoat, which (or a little of the lower portion of which) she must exhibit to the gentleman, the understood idea being that the silken dress shall cover the petticoat, and thus assuage dire feminine indignation at the rejection of her offered hand.”

-Leap-Year-Club.-Women-in-mans-roles.-charicatures.jpg

Prospects of The Leap Year Club - caricatures (Public Domain)

So dear CWT ladies, if you had you been a widow or otherwise marriageable young lady in a Victorian Leap Year, would you have popped the question to your hesitant beau?

My dear CWT gents, would you have welcomed such a proposal?
 
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Mrs. V

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May 5, 2017
View attachment 348029
Victorian Leap Year humor, as part of an advertisement for thread. (Public Domain)
In the 19th century, Leap Year provided the opportunity for the reversal of roles between the “fairer sex” and gentlemen. On February 29th, a lady had the prerogative to propose marriage to the man whom her heart had chosen but she had not yet been able to motivate to pop the question. It went something like this:




According to an article entitled, Leap Year: Ladies’ law in Leap Year–Bachelors’ Penalty, that was published in The Weekly Kansas Chief newspaper on January 21, 1892:

A lady has the privilege in leap year of suggesting marriage between herself and a bachelor acquaintance. In the event of his refusing, the penalty is that the ungallant gentleman shall present the tender damsel with a new silk dress. There is a reservation, however, that the right to claim this penalty depends upon the circumstances that, when she proposed, the damsel was the wearer of a scarlet petticoat, which (or a little of the lower portion of which) she must exhibit to the gentleman, the understood idea being that the silken dress shall cover the petticoat, and thus assuage dire feminine indignation at the rejection of her offered hand.”

View attachment 348030
Prospects of The Leap Year Club - caricatures (Public Domain)

So dear CWT ladies, if you had you been a widow or otherwise marriageable young lady in a Victorian Leap Year, would you have popped the question to your hesitant beau?

My dear CWT gents, would you have welcomed such a proposal?
Well, given that I popped the question to my boyfriend in 1986...over the salad bar..”so, do you want to get married?” I think is what I said..I’ve always been a bit forward!
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Feb 5, 2017
I found this from the "Old Farmer's Almanac" site:

When is Sadie Hawkins Day?

The date of Sadie Hawkins Day events can vary. The Almanac uses the first Saturday in November but the date can vary. (A Saturday is a great day to have a fun dance!)


Some celebrate on November 15 because that is the anniversary of the original comic strip. However, some places in the United States may celebrate it on November 13.

Leap Day

A similar tradition is associated with February 29 in leap years. Long ago, Leap Day also was known as “Ladies’ Day” or “Ladies’ Privilege,” the only period of time when women were free to propose to men. It is thought that this event may have been based on a Scottish law in the 1200s or on an Irish legend, but no one knows for certain.


I wonder what this Scottish law was in the 1200s?
 
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Lubliner

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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Please ladies, and our hostess Ms. @Eleanor Rose, and all gents attending. With all the archetypical grace in old-fashioned ways, I must confess a privilege to do: The Reenactment!
11825058_1099592870068551_5916104908091771847_n.jpg

I am a very thirsty Tete-a-la mode and a drink of water being at the least I desire. If I had a rock I would strike it once, and play Spider-Man for Little Miss Muffet. Such a charm for even Henry James a.k.a Letterbed from up north tolls for the dew (adieu)…ah...ah
achoo-[Hay Fever].
LUBLINER.
 
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