(Image from Sadie Hawkins’ cards at www.postcards.org)
When I was a teen girl, I enjoyed the school sponsored Sadie Hawkins’ dances. We didn’t exactly go for the girl asking the boy to the dance (like a date). But we did follow some of the tradition. It was my chance to claim a dance with whichever boy was my fancy at the time. But from where does the tradition come? First, let me say there’s a misconception that February 29 is Sadie Hawkins’ Day.
Sadie Hawkins was a character created by Al Capp as part of the Li’l Abner comic strip. She made her debut on 15 November 1937. Reportedly, Sadie was “homely” and unable to get a date. Her father Hezekiah Hawkins, a prominent and wealthy citizen of the fictional mountain town of Dogpatch, Kentucky, decided he’d help his 35-year-old daughter out. So, he created a day specifically for Sadie (i.e., Sadie Hawkins Day). On that particular day, the women of Dogpatch matched speed with the town’s eligible bachelors in a footrace. According to Capp, Sadie Hawkins Day was celebrated in November (NOT February). November was when we had our school dances, but at the time, I didn’t understand the significance. (Women’s Issues)
This image from Women You Should Know Fills in the blanks about Capp and the Sadie Hawkins’ tradition. “Calling all the bachelors in town, Hezekiah declared it ‘Sadie Hawkins Day’ and ordered a race of eligible bachelors with Sadie chasing after them… when a man was caught, he would be legally bound to marry her. The other town spinsters loved this idea so much that they declared Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory annual event, which was recreated in the comic strip by Capp every November… for FORTY years!
“Sadie Hawkins Day wasn’t just a hit with the fictional spinsters of Dogpatch, it was also a hit with Capp’s real life readers. In 1939, two years after Sadie’s introduction, Life magazine reported over 200 colleges holding Sadie Hawkins Day events. It became a rite for girls at high schools and college campuses across the country.
“Understanding that Sadie Hawkins was a craze during a very different time in history helps to put its popularity into perspective, at least a little bit. As for the man who dreamed up this idea, Al Capp was apparently a known womanizer and misogynist, as well as an accused rapist. His reputation for ‘seducing and even sexually assaulting aspiring actresses, including a young Goldie Hawn and a distraught and disheveled Grace Kelly,’ along with sleeping with the college girls he met on his Sadie Hawkins Day tours preceded him.” (Women You Should Know)
(Image via Celebrate the History of Sadie Hawkins www.people.com)
Wikipedia provides us a summary to of the story: I”n Li’l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch‘s earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. The ‘homeliest gal in all them hills,’ she grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin’. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic—about Sadie living at home for the rest of her life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it ‘Sadie Hawkins Day.’ A foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors. She specifically had her eye on a boy who was already in a courtship with the cute farmers daughter, Theresa. She was the daughter of the area’s largest potato farmer, Bill Richmand, and, unlike Sadie, had a lot of courtship offers. Stud-muffin Adam Olis was her target, and because the engagement of Miss Theresa and Adam wasn’t official he was included in the race. With matrimony as the consequence of losing the foot race, the men of the town were running for their freedom. Turned out Adam Olis was in 4th place out of 10th leaving John Jonston as Sadie’s catch of the day. It seems likely that the concept’s origins lie in an inversion of the myth of Atalanta, who, reluctant to marry, agreed to wed whoever could outrun her in a footrace.
“When ah fires [my gun], all o’ yo’ kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin—after givin’ yo’ a fair start—Sadie starts a runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin.”
(Image from Women You Should Know) “The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors. In the satirical spirit that drove the strip, many sequences revolved around the dreaded Sadie Hawkins Day race. If a woman caught a bachelor and dragged him, kicking and screaming, across the finish line before sundown—by law he had to marry her.
“Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 15, 1937 Li’l Abner daily strip, with the race actually taking place between November 19 and November 30 in the continuity. It would prove to be a popular annual feature in Li’l Abner, and a cultural phenomenon outside the strip. (see Schreiner, Dave; “Sadie’s First Run”, Li’l Abner Dailies Volume 3: 1937, Kitchen Sink Press, Princeton, WI, pg. 8.)”
Sadie Hawkins’ Day is different (but in many ways the same) as Lady’s Privilege Day, an Irish and Scottish tradition, which I’m discussing on Austen Authors today. You may read it HERE.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I HAVE A COPY OF THE 2010 FILM “LEAP YEAR,” starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode to be given away. The Giveaway will end at midnight, EST, Friday, 28 February 2020. Comment below to be part of the giveaway. ONE COPY OF THE DVD IS AVAILABLE HERE, WHILE THE OTHER IS AVAILABLE ON MY POST ON “Leap Year: Lady’s Privilege,” on Austen Authors. COMMENT HERE TO BE ENTERED FOR A COPY. COMMENT ON austenauthors.net FOR A SECOND CHANCE TO WIN.
The Story: When Anna’s (Amy Adams) four-year anniversary to her boyfriend passes without an engagement ring, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Inspired by an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day, Anna follows Jeremy (Adam Scott) to Dublin to propose to him. But after landing on the wrong side of Ireland, she must enlist the help of the handsome and carefree local Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her across the country. Along the way, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.