The Washington Post

Leap Year ‘interests the international vamp,’ in 1920

Leap Year is not just for special babies. It’s also a holiday with a nearly-forgotten tradition in which women, for just one day, are allowed to propose marriage to a man.

On Jan. 18, 1920, The Post honored this tradition by running an illustration titled “Leap Year Interests the International Vamp.” 

(Washington Post archives)

The captions are rather hard to see, but we’ve spelled them out for you after the jump.

On the left, under a photo of a Swedish woman, ran this caption:

“In spite of her demure appearance, the Swedish vamp has a method of her own that the men of her nation find unbeatable. Seems as though in weakness there is strength.”

On the right, under a photo of a woman believed to be from North Africa:

“The Moorish vamp with her attendant hand maidens looks more like the movie queen who taught us the use of the word. She can’t go after her prey, though, she must wait for it to come to her.”

The second half of the illustration, pictured below, is just as insulting to women from Italy, Burma, and Mexico.

(Washington Post archives)

One jab at a man made it into the illustration, however, under the left-hand photo. “He doesn’t even know that it is the Leap Year,” the caption saucily reads, “and thinks he is doing all the advancing.”

For more historical Leap Year madness, see here and here.


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