Finnish women make marriage proposals on February 29th
Romantic relationships amongst Finns are something we already looked at from different perspectives. For instance, we talked about the Winter Relationships – boyfriends or girlfriends that last only for the coldest months of the year -, and we’ve told you about the “Carrying the wife race” competition. Following this line, we want to introduce you to another – quite cool in my opinion – Finnish custom: On February 29th, Finnish women are the ones to propose marriage (and can ask for retributions if the proposals aren’t accepted).
A nice, frozen way to propose marriage. Source (CC: by-sa).
Finnish women propose marriage on February 29th
Carlos, a reader and commenter of the blog that currently resides in Helsinki, told me by e-mail that last week he overhead some Finns talking about this custom. In the leap years, on the atypical 29th of February, it is a tradition for the in-love Finnish women to kneel in front of their partners and speak the magic words: Would you marry me?
As I never heard anything about this tradition, I started researching and it is indeed something rooted in the culture and not a joke. In this Wikipedia article about marriage proposals, there is a note about Finland. The article recommends for Finnish women to propose on this day. The tradition dictates that, if the man rejects the proposal, he has to buy the brave lady enough fabric so she can make a skirt out of it, as retribution.
Another great retribution would be a trip, of course. Like this one:
Marriage proposals in other countries and more curiosities about this custom
Besides Finland, only the UK and Ireland are practitioners of this custom. The most notorious example of marriage proposal on this day was the one that Queen Victoria of England made to Prince Albert, which of course was accepted. The main difference compared to the Finnish tradition is that, in case of refusal, nothing has to be bought for the woman.
Did you know about this tradition? It would be interesting to know if it has happened to someone you know… and their response. In case of a cold “no”, was there a retribution in fabric to be paid?
As a final note, on February 29th of 1940, besides the customary marriage proposals, the date marked the beginning of the peace talks of the winter war.
Update: yesterday I spoke with several Finns and they all know stories of Finnish women proposing marriage on February 29th. They know of stories were a brave woman called the radio to do the whole ordeal live (he accepted) and more normal proposals (some accepted, some refused too… which were then indeed paid in fabric instead).
Definitely a cute tradition.
Did you know about this Finnish custom? How do you imagine such a marriage proposal to play out?
Topics: Curiosities, Finnish traditions, Interesting facts | 12 comments | Print This Post
Thank you “Big In Finland” — it worked for me!!! My Finnish sweetheart Jarkko has accepted my proposal!
A historical moment! Big in Finland has sparked marriage! 😀
Thanks for sharing Marla! (if you click on Marla’s name above, you can see the screenshot! So cool!)
Can I ask how you got so interested in Finland? Have you ever been in here? We definately have some interesting traditions. I could tell you more but I need to think how to explain them in English? Have you already tried swamp football? br, Anne
I lived in Joensuu for some time, studying Erasmus. I had a blast and I am still very much in love with Finland! I already spoke about Swamp Soccer in the Spanish version of the blog, which I’ve maintained for 10 years. http://www.biginfinland.com/campeonato-mundo-futbol-barro/
Always happy to know more about traditions! Hit me up in the contact section: http://en.biginfinland.com/about-us/contact-us/
I will. 🙂 I just heard that my colleague proposed her husband at the restaurant on her knees and got Yes as an answer. She even had a ring made of birch bark!!
Well, I’m a Finnish man, but this happened to me about 20y ago. My girlfriend proposed me, which I refuced. She wasn’t wearing much skirts at the time, so we decided that I bought her an air compressor for car repairs instead 🙂 And this is a true story, and nowadays we are married after MY proposal..
Love the store JJ, thanks for sharing it! 🙂
I would love to meet a wonderful Finnish woman. My mother’s family is from finnland. Koski and Making family from around Helsinki. I am a single man living on Gatlinburg TN USA. 51 .
Yes! I proposed to my man yesterday! My step mum proposed to my father 3 leap years in a ‘row’. she got lots of fabric over all those years, perhaps what she was really after!
Such a cool story! Proposing for 12 years is pretty nice 🙂
What did your man say? Let us know!
OMG! I have lived with a Finnish woman for almost 25 years – she has never done the “leap year’ thing on me but she has been making some strange comments recently – should I be rushing to Stockmans to buy some skirt fabric? LOL
Liked the marriage tradition in Finland. Seems so simple and beautiful as like Finland