I was about to post a thanksgiving antique postcard on my website, http://www.rememberwhenpostcards.com, when I thought, “why not read the message?” Lucky I did, as I discovered a reference to something I hadn’t heard of before – a leap year party. The message read as follows:
“Hello Orga: Robert and I were up at Crisnans last night playing cards. John is well so far as I know but he is very sorry he didn’t get telling you good bye. We are having a Xmas entertainment at Brick Church We are going to have a leap year party and mebby someone will get John.”
According to folk tradition, a woman was granted the privilege of proposing marriage to a man, instead of the other way around, only during leap year. If the man refused, he owed the woman compensation in the form of a gown and kiss, or gloves – provided she was wearing a scarlet petticoat. Sounds vaguely like the tradition of the Sadie Hawkins dance.
The “ladies privilege” tradition explains the reference to “getting John”. Poor John. I don’t think the socially acceptable venue of a church party will help John. I hope he had an account at the local millinery (clothing) store.