It’s Leap Year, in case you hadn’t noticed.
That means a couple of friends of mine actually get to celebrate their once-in-four-years birthdays on a ‘real’ day this year.
Sadie Hawkins Day? Are you familiar with it? Every self-respecting romance reader should be. It’s the day that the women get to take things into their own hands and grab the man of their choice – if they can catch him.
It all began – well, it probably all began in the dark reaches of history – but for our intents and purposes, it began on November 15, 1937 when American cartoonist Al Capp began to write a story arc in his comic strip, Lil Abner, about Sadie Hawkins, the daughter of Hekzabiah Hawkins, Dogpatch resident.
Sadie, reputedly “the homeliest gal in all them hills,” was growing increasingly panicky about her chances of matrimony as the years went on. And finally, when Sadie reached 35 with nary a suitor in sight, her father (also frantic at the thought of being stuck with her for the rest of his – or her – days) took matters into his own hands.
He declared it Sadie Hawkins Day, and decreed that there would be a foot race: the holler’s bachelors would run and Sadie would take off after them. And whoever she caught would find himself at the altar with Sadie as his bride.
He took out his gun and said, “"When ah fires, 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 husband."
And you’d better believe that all the other unattached women in the vicinity took note. They thought it was a fine idea and declared that there would be a “Sadie Hawkins Day” every year.
Because he got so much fan mail in favor of the idea, Capp did a variation on his Sadie Hawkins Day story every November for the next 40 or so years.
Sadie Hawkins Day got translated into once every four years when it became associated with old folk customs which claimed that on leap years women were allowed to take the initiative and propose. Combining the two seemed perfectly reasonable.
And celebrating it seems like something romance readers and writers ought to do.
As I’m just writing a book in which the heroine is about to have to do exactly that – unless she convinces my hero to ask again – I have allowed my heroine to take courage from Sadie. Sadly there’s no dad at hand with a shotgun to make things a done deal!
In honor of Sadie – and to celebrate our 5th (I think it’s 5th! Has it really been five years? Good grief.) annual Here Come The Grooms! Contest, Kate Walker, Liz Fielding and I -- and our respective heroes (who are currently on the run with some determined heroines after them) -- are opening this year’s contest on Valentine’s Day this year and ending it on February 29th – Sadie’s day.
So please drop by each of our websites during those two weeks and answer all three of our heroes’ questions, then send us those answers. You get three chances to win three books.
It might not get you the man of your choice, but Sadie still thinks that’s a pretty good deal.
Have you celebrated Sadie Hawkins Day? Been to a dance? Run a foot race? Proposed? Tell all!