And yesterday the leap year tradition came to the Capital, when a lovestruck South African woman recreated her favourite romantic movie scene on the Royal Mile yesterday and asked her partner to marry her.
Genevieve Stockwell surprised her boyfriend of three years, Rashad Nochahrli, by proposing to him on the Royal Mile in front of a cheering crowd of well-wishers.
The crafty 31-year-old had even arranged a seven-strong male barbershop chorus plus a brass section from Edinburgh University to serenade him with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, as sung by Heath Ledger in the film 10 Things I Hate About You.
Amazingly her proposal wasn’t the first big shock of Dubai-based Rashad’s day – he had expected to be flying to Beirut but somehow ended up in Glasgow.
He said: “I had no idea, it’s all very surreal. We left our apartment in Dubai at 3am and I expected us to fly to Beirut with friends. Instead, Genevieve handed me a boarding pass for Glasgow and after a quick train journey here we are now. It’s incredible.”
Genevieve began plotting her dream proposal in December last year, enlisting the help of local singing group The Rollinghills Chorus over the internet.
Chorus chairman Ina Kinghorn said: “We’re delighted to be a part of such a wonderful occasion. It’s definitely the most bizarre request we’ve ever had to perform.”
Each member of the chorus and brass section wore a T-shirt spelling out “Will you marry” while the important “me?” was worn by Genevieve herself.
And after a brief moment of wide-eyed amazement, Rashad thankfully said yes.
Genevieve said: “If he had said no then there would have been a problem. It took a lot of planning to organise it all so I must thank The Rollinghills Chorus for their help.
“I decided upon Edinburgh because it’s such a magical romantic city. It will always have a place in our hearts now.”
Some believe the leap year tradition that women may propose marriage dates back to 5th century Ireland, though most see its beginnings much later.
Supposedly, a 1288 law by five-year-old Queen Margaret of Scotland required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man, who must provide compensation in the form of a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, £1 and a kiss.
Full steam ahead
A CIVIL servant from the Capital also took advantage of the leap year tradition yesterday and asked her partner to marry her in a surprise proposal on board a steam train.
Fiona Boubert won a competition with Mills & Boon to create the perfect romantic moment for her to pop the question to her partner Neil Kennedy.
The romance publisher set up the scene of a steam train at Alresford railway station on the Watercress Line in Hampshire with the help of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.
Miss Boubert, 45, from Edinburgh, said: “It went very well, he said yes but I was fairly certain he would.”
Explaining why she chose to propose, she said: “I would say I am a bit of a romantic.
“I do believe in gentlemen doing certain things but us ladies only get a chance every four years so I thought why not.
“Obviously I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him but I was aware it was the 29th coming up and thought I would just do it.
“I only entered the competition last week so I only had a week to plot behind his back.
“I told him we were going on a mystery holiday that I had won and that we were flying to Heathrow and being picked up by car and that was all I knew – it all worked very well.”
Mr Kennedy, 46, who works for thetrainline.com, said: “It felt different, very very surprising, I had absolutely no problem with saying yes to the question.
“I’m not one for knowing what date it is so it was only after I had been asked that it dawned on me what the date was, it was a complete shock.”