Today is the anniversary of the first Sadie Hawkins Day. It’s a day when the tables turn and it’s OK for girls to ask boys for a date. Some people will use any excuse for a party, but here’s an event that began with a newspaper comic strip that dates back to the 1930s.

Al Capp’s "Lil Abner” ran for 47 years, bringing the fictional hillbillies of the mountain town of Dogpatch, Ark. to life. The comic ran in 900 American newspapers and 100 more in 28 foreign countries.

The mayor of Dogpatch was desperate to marry off his ugly daughter. So he created Sadie Hawkins Day. It was a big town event when all the single men were given a short head start. Then, all the single women, including the mayor's daughter, chased the boys. If a girl catches her man, he had to marry her.

"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 husbin."

Sadie Hawkins Day races caught on all across the country. Two years after the original comic strip began, more than 200 college campuses were holding Sadie Hawkins races. Within 10 years there were 40,000 venues celebrating Sadie Hawkins Day.

Al Capp’s cartoon was discontinued in 1977, and Sadie Hawkins Day kind of faded away with it. Today it’s only occasionally celebrated on college campuses anymore.