Sadie Hawkins: A Brief History


Leanne Abel, Contributor

The annual Sadie Hawkins Dance will take place February 24. While you may know what this dance is, specifically that it is when a girl asks a guy, opposite of traditional way it’s done, you might now really know the reasons why. So, what is Sadie Hawkins?  

One might think that Sadie Hawkins was a real person, maybe a female rights activist who wanted women to have some say in school dances. However, Sadie Hawkins was actually never a real person.  

In 1934, Al Capp (born Alfred Gerald Caplin) published the comic strip “Li’l Abner.” This comic strip was originally in black and white, but six months later, started printing in color. This strip ran for 43 years and was about a boy named Li’l Abner Yokum, a 19-year-old who lived in the town of Dogpatch. The comic strip was primarily about the crazy daily life of an American teen in the south. It was actually one of the first popular comic strips to be based in the south, as many comics at that time were about urban northerners.  

The strip ran as normal until three years after its debut, on November 15, 1937. In the comic strip, a man named Hekzebiah Hawkins is shown to be worried that his daughter will live at home for the rest of her life because she was 35 and still single. His daughter was Sadie Hawkins and she was known as the “homeliest gal in all them hills.” On this day in November, Hekzebiah declared the day to be Sadie Hawkins day, a day where all of the town’s single men would be chased by women in a footrace.  

The idea caught the public’s eye, and on December 11, 1939, Life magazine published an article that said there were about 200 colleges that were participating in Sadie Hawkins day.  

This idea became so popular that it became an annual event and was held every year in November. But people were writing to Capp about which day it was going to be so that they could plan for it. While it commonly happened on November 13, in his very last comic strip on November 5, 1977, Al Capp declared that the official Sadie Hawkins day would be on November 26. 

So while the dance may not be as progressive now as it was in 1937, Sadie Hawkins day meant a great deal to women, as this is the first time they were allowed to ask a guy to a dance.