This year is a leap year - and for some reason that means it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to propose to her partner on February 29, an opportunity which comes round once every four years.

Yep, it's 2020, and women can propose to whomever and whenever they want, but the old Irish tradition, thought to date back to the 5th century, remains on people's minds.

One hotel in Iceland wants to give all the power to women for taking charge and is offering them a complimentary stay if a woman proposes on February 29 this year at the hotel - "to champion women taking the lead".

Hotel Rangá's "Take The Leap" package includes a free night's accommodation for the couple with breakfast, chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne.


There's even an in-house wedding coordinator who's prepared to help pull off the perfect proposal, whether that means arriving by helicopter, getting down on one knee under a waterfall or while watching the Northern Lights.

Hotel Rangá's Marketing Manager Eyrún Aníta Gylfadóttir told the Herald they hope the package empowers women. "We encourage women to take the lead, whether that's in their relationship, career or beyond," she says. "Iceland has been heralded as one of the best places to be a woman and Hotel Rangá embraces that."

Iceland is known to be a progressive country when it comes to gender equality and politics.

"We think that's a great reason to visit. It's not the first time women have taken a leap for change in Iceland and we champion that movement around the world," says Gylfadóttir.

The hotel, which was built in 1999, is the only 4-star resort in South Iceland, located between the villages of Hella and Hvolsvöllur, about an hour's drive from the capital of Reykjavik.

Hotel Ranga in Iceland wants women to take the lead and propose this February 29. Photo / Supplied
Hotel Ranga in Iceland wants women to take the lead and propose this February 29. Photo / Supplied

It has its own observatory for star gazers, located about 150 metres north of the hotel's main building, and is a popular choice between September to April for people wanting to watch the northern lights.

So far the hotel has received plenty of interest in 'Take the Leap', although no lady has confirmed they're taking the plunge just yet. Usually, the nightly rate for this experience would be upwards of NZ$1,193.

That might sound like quite an investment and potentially a bit of a risk if it doesn't end up going to plan. So what happens if the proposal is rejected?


"While we hope it doesn't happen, if the proposal is rejected we'll still honor any lady that has the courage to take the leap for love," says Gylfadóttir.

Why do women propose in a leap year?

Leap years are an important part of keeping the Earth in alignment as it rotates around the sun.

A complete orbit takes a little bit longer than 365 days - (365.24217, or roughly an extra quarter day, to be precise) - and so the leap year, which occurs once every four years, helps even it out over time.

But what's this got to do with whether women are 'allowed' to get down on one knee?

According to Irish lore, a nun called St Bridget complained to St Patrick - the patron saint of Ireland - that women were waiting too long for their suitors to propose.

The story goes that the two made a deal, and St Patrick agreed that on February 29, women were allowed to propose.

There's no historical record of this, and some historians have cast serious doubt on whether the St Bridget and St Patrick even ever met.

But the tradition has carried on through the centuries, regardless.