February 29 can be a risky day for men. According to tradition, on that day they just don’t have the right to refuse a marriage proposal from any woman.
February 29 is a holiday dedicated to love, just like February 14; however, it is celebrated only once every four years. According to the legend, in the 4th century, Brigit of Ireland visited Saint Patrick, complaining about the hard fate of the women from her monastery. They were indignant that they had no right to show any initiative in their relationships with men. Saint Patrick sympathized, and gave them permission to propose to men; however, they could do so only once every four years – on February 29. In 1288, the Scots were said to have passed a law granting any woman the right to propose to a man on February 29, and he who rejected such a proposal would have to compensate for that offense by buying the woman a silk shirt or a pair of gloves, or offering a cash payment. Unfortunately, in recent times, the Scottish Parliament has been unable to find the actual document that acknowledges this law. Similar acts were passed in Denmark and England, although they haven’t survived to the present day.
In 1937, an American illustrator came up with an interesting interpretation of that holiday. Al Capp, in the comic strip Li’l Abner, introduced a prosperous man in the town of Dogpatch, who feared that his 35-year-old daughter, Sadie Hawkins, would become an old spinster. He came up with a peculiar way to solve that problem: on February 29, he gathered all the eligible bachelors from town, and arranged a hunt, where his daughter Sadie was the huntress. Sadie would chase after the men, and any man she was able to catch and drag back to the starting line would be obliged to marry her. According to Dogpatch tradition, this Sadie Hawkins Day race was held every February 29th.