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Run From the Red Petticoat!    
Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:47 AM GMT+4
Contributed by: annikee

EntertainmentBecause of the inability to adjust a solar calendar that was evenly consistant, we make up for the roughly 6 hours a year loss difference by getting an extra day every 4 years. This is February 29th, Leap Day.

I looked around for a good reason why it was termed "Leap Year". The explanation seems to be thusly boring: if a calendar holiday, say, Valentine's Day, is on Tuesday in the common year before, it will fall on Thursday in the Leap Year that follows, instead of Wednesday. It leaps a day. Because, well, we have an extra day. Personally, I think adding another day to February is proof of man's inhumanity to man. Why not an extra summer day, June 31? Or a September 31st, to enjoy one more day of warmth? Or a November 31st to get an extra day between Thanksgiving and The Big December Insanity? Was nobody thinking? Why don't we move it now? Seems reasonable to me. We've got 4 years to get used to the idea!

But I got off track here. Leap Day has gathered some customs around it. One being the false legend of it being Sadie Hawkins Day.

For those too young to have known the comic strip "Lil Abner", it was the ongoing silly drama of a hillbilly town called Dogpatch. In the original Al Capp strip, "Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father in desperation called together the eligible bachelors of Dogpatch and declared that day to be Sadie Hawkins Day and that "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 husband."

"The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day an annual event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors everywhere. Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 13, 1937 Li'l Abner strip with the race actually taking place between the November 19th and November 30th strips. It would prove to be an annual event in the strip".-Wikipedia

Thus, the unmarried women of Dogpatch physically chased down the single men. If a woman bagged a man and dragged him back to the starting line by sundown, he had to marry her. By the 1950s, post-war pressure to marry and procreate brought Sadie Hawkins Day dances into mainstream American culture. These were held on Leap Day, not on Sadie's original November date. On Sadie Hawkins Day, women asked the men out, women asked the men to dance, and women "were allowed" to propose.

This seems to have been a blending of the comic with much-earlier, real traditions of Leap Year. From Wiki: "Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. Because men felt that put them at too great a risk, the tradition was in some places tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, February 29th, or to the medieval leap day, February 24th. According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat -- fair warning, if you will." Sheds some light on Rhett Butler's gift of a red petticoat to Mammy in "Gone With the Wind"! I'd suppose this signal gave a man time to run away on sight of it. But I do like the very cavewoman image of chasing, bagging and dragging a man to a finish line. Not the way I'd recommend starting a marriage, but stranger things happen.

So, should the mood strike you, gals, today's the day. Get your running shoes, your red slip and keep a sharp eye out. Though I'll warn ya, if you catch him, you've gotta keep him...

 

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  • Run From the Red Petticoat! | 16 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: cgrotke on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:08 AM GMT+4
    Single men should consider themselves duly warned...


    (Thanks!)
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: janed on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 11:47 AM GMT+4
    Annikee, This is hilarious! Wonderful job weaving legend and pop culture with historical research. I don't know if I would have made the connection with Mammie's red petticoat in a million leap years!

    ---
    janed
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: annikee on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 08:27 PM GMT+4
    Thanks, Janie! I always wondered what the big deal was about the red petticoat, and it all makes sense now...

    ---
    "Kindness and love being the core of human interaction rather than power and material gain is at the heart of everything worth struggling for"-SK-B
    Happy Leap Day
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 12:10 PM GMT+4
    There's plenty of me to go around today... ;-)

    -Maus

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    Psyche!
    Happy Leap Day
    Authored by: janed on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 12:42 PM GMT+4
    Maus, I thought you said "Frau Maus" (or was it Mrs. Maus) took your snow angel picture..... Do I misremember?

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    janed
    Happy Leap Day
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:54 PM GMT+4
    What on earth are you suggesting?

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    Psyche!
    Happy Leap Day
    Authored by: janed on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:00 PM GMT+4
    Perhaps I misunderstood your comment that there is plenty of you to go around today... I took that mean mean you were broadcasting your bachelorhood. I have probably misremembered the origin of your snow angel picture, which I thought you said your wife took. Please forgive me if i am totally off base. I should have looked that up before commenting. If apologies are in order, i apologize.

    Wanna dance?

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    janed
    what i am suggesting
    Authored by: janed on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:26 PM GMT+4
    "Hey, whaddaya know, Frau Maus just happened to snap a photo of me clearing the walkway earlier today.

    You asked for it.

    -Maus"

    I am suggesting that you are attached, not single. I assume you were being playful by suggesting there is plenty of you to go around. In the spirit of fun: we already know that from the photo! Maybe Frau Maus doesn't mind sharing, but i think Sadie Hawkins wants a one-woman man.

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    janed
    what i am suggesting
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:31 PM GMT+4
    No, no. I was just having fun here. I wouldn't do, or write, anthing I wouldn't tell Frau Maus about. I'm available, but only for lunch or a friendly discussion. And nobody wants to see me dance. ;-)

    -Maus

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    Psyche!
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: JoanneN on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 12:19 PM GMT+4
    This was great thanks for the interesting information.

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: Genie on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:12 PM GMT+4

    Oh, I see I have something sanctioned and fun to do today besides work! Oh, and I'd get my exercise, too.

    I'm not so sure about the "keeping him" part.

    Genie

    ---
    Wonders Never Cease.
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: Lise on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:50 PM GMT+4
    L'il Abner was my first introduction to Sadie Hawkins Day and I have to give it a plug. We had the soundtrack album from the 1959 show and so were familiar with Mammy Yokum's kickapoo joy juice, Marryin' Sam, and of course, that great Dogpatchian Jubilation T. Cornpone. I highly recommend this show, as the music is great -- written by Johnny Mercer and others, I believe -- and very funny, not to mention political. Although Daisy May's difficulties bagging her man L'il Abner are a big part of it, the real story is that Dogpatch has been designated an unnecessary town and the US Govt is going to blow it up in a big ICBM test.

    Best tune - "The Country's In The Very Best Of Hands"

    Finally, regarding Sadie Hawkins Day -- seems as though it's a bit of a throwback these days, since women have been 'allowed' to ask men out and even propose marriage for most of my life. Modern courtship is more of a mutual affair these days, thank god.

    Re: Sadie Hawkins Day
    Authored by: Genie on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 04:59 PM GMT+4

    Re: Sadie Hawkins Day. Yes, but that's not how it really works. The biological differences between men and women still come into play in courtship, relationship and tying the knot. Also the social structures concerning mating/dating/cohabitating have not sufficiently evolved to truly allow for gender equality in the mating/dating/cohabitating scene.

    I could write a thesis on this but needn't bother.

    Genie

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    Wonders Never Cease.
    Re: the differences between men and women
    Authored by: Wendy M. Levy on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 08:34 PM GMT+4
    I would posit gender differences, when they actually exist, are a result of socialization and culture rather than biology.

    Although most of us - including myself - would like to think we know the difference between men and women, once you ask someone to actually define those hard-and-fast differences, most of the answers can be easily refuted, even from a medical or physiological standpoint. And yes, that includes primary/secondary sexual characteristics AND chromosomes.

    Funny, that.

    So, regardless of your gender (or someone else's), ask someone out today! :-)

    ---
    Tune in to 107.7 fm WVEW every Thursday from 6-8pm to hear The Most Boring Radio Program Ever
    Re: the differences between men and women
    Authored by: Genie on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 12:11 AM GMT+4
    Some differences are biological some of the time. While socialization is always a factor in gender differences, whether one is agreeing with the socialization or fighting against the socialization. I do know it is not just this simplistic.

    Biologically, many many, predominently straight men's brains receive information, process information and act upon information in predictable, documented and sometimes joked about repetitive patterns, repeated throughout the ages.

    Of course, gender and sexuality of individuals runs along a several different continuums. So do the different types of intelligences. Gender and sexuality is, at many times, both biologically and socially constructed.

    Genie

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    Wonders Never Cease.
    Run From the Red Petticoat!
    Authored by: Wendy M. Levy on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 08:31 PM GMT+4
    Rats! My red slip is in the laundry. I wore it while I was in NYC the other day and I got some good attention out of it anyway, even if I was a few days early.

    Thanks for this article. I, too, love the way you weave together history and pop culture, all with great attitude.

    I always look forward to your posts.

    ---
    Tune in to 107.7 fm WVEW every Thursday from 6-8pm to hear The Most Boring Radio Program Ever