Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romance is in the air...

Today is the day that romance is in the air. Nope, it's not Valentine's Day! That was earlier this month. It's LEAP YEAR so there's an extra day in the month of February and that is today.

Now to us modern gals, that don't mean a whole lot but to Sadie Hawkins it was her lifeline to a husband. Folk lore has it that she was "the homeliest gal in the hills" and grew almighty tired of waiting for the fellows to come a courtin'. I can just imagine how she must've felt with gals like Daisy Mae in competition. Hekzebiah Hawkins, her father and a prominent resident of Dogpatch, didn't want to see his baby girl unhappy plus there was the fact that he sure didn't want her to be living at home forever. So in the 1930's he declared a Sadie Hawkin's Day. It involved a footrace in which the unmarried gals pursued the town's bachelors, with matrimony the consequence.

Back in my grandmother's younger days, leap year and spring fever joined forces. The two of them together took a lot of self-proclaimed bachelors right up to the altar to face the preacher. Leap year was more important than Christmas or Valentine's Day back then and it did not slip past the general public so easily as it does now.

It was the year of reckoning. The only day on the calendar when it was considered socially acceptable for a girl to propose to a boy. Any good old boy who'd been lackadaisical about proposing, or the ones who just flat out didn't have any intention of ever saying "I do", dreaded leap year. For months they practiced racing up hills, down hills, dodging gopher holes on flat land, and clothes lines in back yards so they could outrun any long-legged girl who set her sights on him. I really think that's how the Olympics got their start.

The girls, whether skinny or slightly on the plus side, loved it. It was the big day that they'd worked toward for four long years. They'd worked out faithfully until they could run the mile in two minutes, jump hurdles in long skirts, corsets and some even in wedding dresses, without breaking a sweat. Their guerilla training included ambushing a mean grizzly bear and leading him to the altar before he even knew he was captured. I'm wondering if that's where the new wave of Boot Camp came from.

Preachers loved February 29. They made more money that day marrying folks than they could collect all week during a tent revival in July during a heat wave.

If those men had been truly wise, they would have run five steps, pretended to fall and gotten caught right there at the beginning. Then they wouldn't have had to worry about remembering to buy an anniversary present but once every four years.

In reality, it is claimed that leap year actually started in 1288 by Queen Margaret of Scotland, who required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to money to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. (Now that, ladies, is a sure fire way to spruce up the spring wardrobe.)

In Denmark, the tradition is that women may propose on the bissextile leap day, Feb. 24, and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. (I'm wondering if those can be gardening gloves?)

In Finland, if a man refuses, he must buy the woman the fabric for a skirt. (I bet the men over there were real happy to see mini-skirts take over the world!)

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. (Wonder if that is grounds for divorce?)

I don't know that Sadie ever caught a husband and Hekzebiah might still be listenin' to her whine about not having one. But by the late 30's the event had swept the nation and had a life of its own. Life magazine reported over 200 colleges holding Sadie Hawkins Day events in 1939. It became a woman empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long before the modern feminist movement gained prominence.

So whether we write contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, regency or any other romance genre, we owe some of our heroines' sassy spunk to the women who went before us...those who took matters into their own hands and took care of business.

Anyone out there have a Feb. 29 anniversary? Did you have to chase down your husband? I've got an ARC of One Hot Cowboy Wedding (release date, April 3) to give away today to one lucky person who leaves a comment... USA and Canada only, please. Will draw a name out of the Stetson this evening and post it tomorrow morning.

34 comments:

  1. That was cute, Caroline. My sister was nearly born on leap year. Now how awful would that be??? I mean, you could say you were younger than you were, but it's the presents that count! I'll be thinking of your cowboys while I try to remember which way to climb into the saddle. LOL!

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  2. Fun post, Carolyn! Dogpatch Day was always a bust for me. All the guys I wanted to pin my patch on were already taken, and I never got to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance. Sad, but true...

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  3. No funny story, but just love Carolyn Brown's books. Love a good cowboy!!

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  4. Terry: Good luck with that saddle! And I agree when you are a kid, it's all about the presents, however, it would be kinda fun to divide my age by four at this point in life!

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  5. Cheryl: And just look what they all missed by outrunning you. It's their loss, darlin', and I betcha dollars to cowchips they are regretting their stupidity.

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  6. regencygirl: Thank you! So glad that you love my cowboys!

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  7. What a wonderful post! I'm off to find some bachelors to see how fast they can run.

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  8. Grace, you just gave me my giggle for the day! Thank you!

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  9. Great post. I always thought Sadie Hawkin's Day was fun.

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  10. Crystal: Thanks for stopping by! These days, you don't even hear about Sadie Hawkin's dances or days.

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  11. I don't have a leap year anniversary but I did have to remind my husband to remember to ask me to marry him:)

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  12. Gail: Some men do have to have that extra push, don't they?

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  13. I loved reading all that and have to admit I have never heard most of it.
    Amelia

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  14. Hey Carolyn - what a wonderful blog!

    I love all of the fun facts you shared with us.

    My favorite part of the school dance was when they would have a Sadie Hawkins dance...and the girls could ask the boys to dance :)

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  15. Amelia: That's because you are beautiful and you had your choice of all the handsome guys!

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  16. Colleen: That was fun wasn't it? But were you all nervous because it really took you out of your comfort zone to actually ask a boy to take you to a dance?

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  17. What a fun post, Carolyn!
    As for me, I never knew who asked who. It was kind of a mutual agreement. We made googly-eyes at each other for a while and then we just kind of melted into a couple.
    Your post made me laugh out loud, especially the part about the anniversaries. Thanks for brightening up my morning!

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  18. Joanne: Glad to hear your giggles this morning.

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  19. Leap Day is pretty normal for my family. Also no husband-chasing...yet. I'm thankful I have so many exciting and brave moments from books, whose characters' lives I'm happy to live through.

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  20. I love carolyn's books and can not wait to read about Jazzy and Ace.

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  21. What fun trivia! I don't know anyone who got married on Leap Day. I do know a few people with birthdays today. One of them hates being a Leap Day baby while the other person doesn't mind. I suppose it depends on how their families handled it growing up.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

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  22. No leap year birthdays or anniversities here. Your post was so cute. I guess if you are born on Feb 29 you only have a birthday every four years so you would stay young longer.

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  23. I've only known one person who had a leap day birthday. He always use to joke that he was a lot younger than everyone else since he only had a real birthday every four years lol.

    catslady5(at)aol.com

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  24. Na: Glad you are enjoying reading. It is such a wonderful escape, isn't it?

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  25. Malica: Love your name! Thanks for stopping by and for reading my books! Jazzy and Ace have quite a story to tell!

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  26. StacieD: My daughter was reminding me this morning of one of her school mates who is 40 this year, but since he was born on Leap Day, he's only 10...so his family threw him a little boy 10 year old party!

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  27. Quilt Lady: That's the prize for only getting presents every fourth year...you get to age much slower.

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  28. catslady: Quite true! It does have it's pros and cons!

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  29. Just love the trivia on "Leap year" Have turned into a fan of your spikes & spurs series! Never laughed so much. All because of a gift of a book by you. Great writing. A new fan!
    Roberta

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  30. Roberta, glad that you are finding some humor in my books! Thank you for stopping by.

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  31. How fun! I heard a story about this on NPR this morning.

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  32. Shana: Can't you just imagine how excited men were on leap year when the mini skirt hit the fashion trend? Didn't cost them nearly so much to say no!

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  33. I think it would be fun to be born on Feb 29 - what a great way to stay young! I didn't do too much running to catch my husband, more of the other way around. I was starving in grad school and he kept inviting me out to eat. Yup, love really does come through the stomach!

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  34. Thank you to everyone who commented! We have a WINNER! If mommakittie will email me at ccbrown66@att.net I will gladly put one signed ARC in the mail this week!

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