Sadie Hawkins Day
|Sadie Hawkins Day|
1944 reenactment of Sadie Hawkins Day race
|Genre||Folk event and pseudo-holiday|
|Activity||Women ask men for a date or dancing|
Sadie Hawkins Day is an American folk event and pseudo-holiday originated by Al Capp's classic hillbilly comic strip Li'l Abner (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins events, the premise of which is that women ask men for a date or dancing. "Sadie Hawkins Day" was introduced in the comic strip on November 15, 1937; the storyline ran until the beginning of December. The storyline was revisited the following October/November, and inspired a fad on college campuses. By 1939, Life reported that 201 colleges in 188 cities held a Sadie Hawkins Day event.
In Li'l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of Hekzebiah Hawkins, one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers and the "homeliest gal in all them hills". She grew frantic waiting for suitors until she reached age 35 and was still a spinster, and her father was worried about her 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 pursuing the town's eligible bachelors. She was specifically interested in a handsome boy named Adam who was already in a courtship with Theresa, whose father was the area's largest potato farmer. Unlike Sadie, Theresa had a number of courtship offers. Matrimony was the consequence of Sadie catching a bachelor, and the bachelors of the town were running for their freedom.
As the event became a tradition in the comic strip, Capp added more story elements. Each year, the Sadie Hawkins storyline begins with a prophecy by Old Man Mose, who gives Li'l Abner a cryptic clue about the end of the storyline, which always comes true in a roundabout, surprising way. The storyline sometimes also includes the Sadie Hawkins Eve Dance which is held on the previous evening, when the young women wear hob-nailed boots and stomp on their partners' feet, to make the bachelors run slower during the event.
Inspired by Capp's satiric race in which eligible women chase down terrified bachelors for the purposes of wedlock, the event reverses the cultural norms of men as the romantic pursuers. Arthur Berger says that the day "represents a fertility rite and awakens an awareness of the relationship between the American courtship and more "primitive" rites." More recently, the tradition has come under attack for being inherently sexist.
The date for Sadie Hawkins Day most commonly reported is November 13, two days before the first appearance in the comics. The date has on occasion been confused for February 29 (Leap Day), the date for Bachelor's Day according to the original Irish tradition of women being allowed to propose marriage.
- "Some Fun Is on the Way — Sadie Hawkins Day Is Near", The Pittsburgh Press (Oct 19, 1940)
- "On Your Marks, Girls! Sadie Hawkins Day Is Nov. 9", The Jackson Clarion-Ledger (Oct 20, 1946)
- "Al Capp Tells How to Conduct a 'Sadie Hawkins Day'" by Paul F. Kneeland, The Boston Sunday Globe (Nov 6, 1949)
- "Carbon Carbonettes to Sponsor Annual Sadie Hawkins Day Events Tomorrow", The Price Sun-Advocate (Nov 23, 1950)
- "Sadie Hawkins Day comes and goes: Tradition used to empower women diminishes as society changes" by Matt Katz, The Camden Courier-Post (Feb 26, 2004)
- Capp, Al (1988). Li'l Abner Dailies, Volume Three: 1937. Kitchen Sink Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-87816-043-4.
- Capp, Al (1989). Li'l Abner Dailies, Volume Four: 1938. Kitchen Sink Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-87816-052-3.
- Schumacher, Michael; Kitchen, Denis (2013). Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 9781608197859. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
- Schreiner, Dave (1988). "1937: Sadie's First Run". Li'l Abner Dailies, Volume Three: 1937. Kitchen Sink Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-87816-043-4.
- Berger, Arthur Asa (1970). Li'l Abner: A Study in American Satire. Twayne. p. 97. ISBN 9781617034169. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
- "The Ugly Truth Behind Sadie Hawkins Day". Women You Should Know. November 13, 2015.
- Locker, Melissa (February 29, 2012). "Get Ready, Ladies: Leap Day Is Also Sadie Hawkins Day" – via newsfeed.time.com.
- B. A., English Language and Literature. "How Did Sadie Hawkins Day Start?". ThoughtCo.