Archives for posts with tag: Traditions

Postcard: Leap year, 1908 Description: Cartoon on theme of women proposing in leap years. Caption: "Maidens are eagerly awaiting ..."

One extra day in February means one extra history lesson for 2012. Because who doesn’t want to learn about Lead Year?

According to Wikipedia, “A leap year (or intercalary or bissextile year) is a year containing one additional day (or, in the case of lunisolar calendars, a month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.”
Blah blah blah, this is NOT the interesting part. What’s interesting are the fascinating traditions that come along with a Leap Year.

One folk tradition states that women can only propose during a Leap Year or on Leap Day. Supposedly, this tradition started with either St. Patrick or St. Brigid in 5th century Ireland.According to tradition, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man. The fine differed from country to country – some places it was fabric for a new dress, a kiss, money, or a pair in gloves.

Now, note the postcard (pasted above):

Maidens eagerly waiting Leap Year (1908) for their chances to propose to a man. I love how these women are armed with guns, axes and a telescope. I’m also loving how their bear trap is baited with a bag of money.

I promote women proposing to their prospective mates whether or not it’s a Leap Year, but if you need an excuse (and a little extra courage) what better day than TODAY! (Leap Day!) to pop the question??

Postcard: Leap Year, 1908 Description: "In 1908 / 'Be Careful, Clara, that's a fine Specimen!'"

 

– Ann Erling Gofus

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When Ryan and I first started dating we went on a weekend trip to Paris. Oh, I know, oh la la is right. Ryan had never been to Paris before, so we hit up all the typical Parisian sites, but I insisted on one stop: I wanted to see Oscar Wilde’s tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

The place is huge: winding paths, soooo many graves and although it’s a cemetery, it was really interesting to wander through. I gave Ryan the map to navigate. In the 3 years since meeting, I have learned that Ryan has a terrible sense of direction. Looking back, I realize now how hard he was trying to find the place – and after an hour of searching, we found it.

Ryan looking at a map in front of Wilde's tomb in Paris. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Wilde’s tomb stone was designed by Jacob Epstein – it depicts an angel who appears to be in flight, his wings trailing behind him. The angel originally had male genitalia, but has since been vandalized. I think it looks a bit Art Deco-esque, and Wikipedia informs me that Epstein’s style was considered avant-garde at the time.

Oscar Wilde's tomb stone in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

Since the ‘90s, it’s been a bit of a… tradition…? to kiss Wilde’s grave marker, leaving behind a lipstick mark. Wilde’s tomb is covered with kisses of all different colors and sizes. A sweet, cult tradition? A strange tourist attraction? A form of affection? Either way, the kisses are starting to damage the stone.

Kisses on Wilde's tomb in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, said the lipstick had become a “serious problem” because the grease sinks into the stone. “Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away,” he said.

After its most recent cleaning, the tomb will reopen with a glass barrier protecting it from greasy lips. I’m sure people will continue to kiss the glass, but will it ever be the same?

As a pro-historic-preservationist, I totally support the glass barrier. It’s someone’s grave, for goodness sakes! Show some respect!

What do you think?
And while we’re answering questions, what other bizarre, cultish and awesome “tourist traditions” can you think of? We’re talking Old Wive’s Tales/Myths/Ritualistic things that we read about in travel books. Like, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland for the gift of eloquence. Or throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain to return to Rome someday.

Any ideas?