Leap Year

There are many interesting and wacky themes and motifs repeated in antique postcard designs - the "water wagon", Dutch children of dubious intelligence, and of particular interest on this Leap Day, the concept of Leap Year as it relates to intergender romantic customs.

Just as now, it was traditional during the early-20th century that the man would propose marriage to the woman and not the other way around - that is, unless it was a Leap Year, in which case it was open range for a woman to snare her unsuspecting gentleman caller in the web of marriage!

The origins of this practice are not wholly clear. Irish folklore has it that a 5th-century Irish nun asked St. Patrick to grant women permission to propose, as many were sick of waiting around for their reticent men to do it (what else is new!?).  The Leap Day was chosen to provide a small window of opportunity to those women truly in need. Regardless of whether this story is true, the practice appears to have deep roots, especially in the British Isles.

There is a certain element of the bloodthirsty spinster as predator in many of these cards. Paleogreetings doesn't necessarily endorse this view of women, though some of the designs do bring a smile to the face.

Regardless of your marital status, Paleogreetings wishes you a happy Leap Year and Leap Day! The sense of "free time" inherent in February 29 is quite exhilarating. Make the most of it!