Legend has it that after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose a fifth century Irish nun St. Brigid, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to allow women to propose marriage. Initially, he granted permission to propose only once every seven years, but at St. Brigid’s persistence, he agreed and permitted proposals every leap day.
The folk tale suggests that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the blow.
The Irish tradition therefore dictates that any man refusing a woman’s leap-day proposal must give her a silk gown. However, this tradition is not thought to have become commonplace until the 19th Century.
Research carried out by Beefeater informs that 20 per cent of women said they would like to propose to their partner. One third of women said they would be worried about their partner’s reaction. However, more than half of men would love their girlfriends to get down on one knee.
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