An Irish Leap Year Tradition for Ladies in Love - ShanOre Irish Jewlery

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An Irish Leap Year Tradition for Ladies in Love

Ireland’s second patron saint, Brigid of Kildare, was known, loved and sometimes probably feared for her shrewd 

negotiating skills and her willingness to go head to head with male leaders. Her feast day is February 1st, but that isn’t the only day this month that we think of her. She left us another special day, a legacy of turning the tables once every four years.


The lives of Ireland’s two famous patron saints overlapped, although Patrick was significantly older, probably being in his 60s when Brigid was born. In fact, legend tells us that Patrick baptized Brigid’s mother Brocca, a Christian slave. Her father was a Druid priest, and as a child Brigid was known for giving his riches away to the poor. Perhaps that is the root of her fearlessness in standing up to authority figures!

St. Brigid’s Proposal to St. Patrick

Brigid was not shy about approaching men in positions of authority, and she often came out with the upper hand in her negotiations with them. It seems safe to say she was unhappy with the role of women in her society, and perhaps she was well aware of how much more power and freedom women a couple of generations before her enjoyed. One of the things that bothered her was that at the time, only men proposed marriage. Women could only wait and either hope for a proposal from their beloved.

So Brigid brought this concern to Patrick and explained how unfair it was that women were reduced to waiting and were not free to take the initiative. Men then, as now, were not always quick to make the leap. So she proposed that on February 29th, the day that occurs only in leap years, women could propose. Patrick agreed, and the tradition was born.

Planning Your Proposal

Planning a proposal is deeply personal. It can also be scary! Both are true no matter who you are or who you love. Think about your beloved’s favorite things and places. Are they the sort who would love a huge, elaborate public declaration or would they prefer a quiet, romantic proposal over dinner or drinks?

Today, women are free to propose any day of the year. But if you are looking for a fun theme for your proposal or a way to tie it to your Irish heritage, proposing on February 29th could be it. And you’ll never forget the date of you proposed!

Either way, it seems only fair that he gets a ring. The Claddagh has always been used as both an engagement and a wedding ring. It’s beautiful backstory and symbolism have made it an enduring classic. The heart is for love, the hands for friendship and the crown for loyalty. Worn on the left ring finger with the heart pointed away from the palm, it signifies the wearer is engaged. Turn it around, and it is a wedding ring. Celtic knot rings are also perfect to signify committed love. The entwined lines have no beginning or end to represent eternity.



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