Monday, November 10, 2008

National Holiday Day

Written in October 2007, this post from "Home of the Free" is just as relevant in 2008.

Christmas is nearly upon us once again. Many would call it the undisputed heavyweight champion of all contemporary holidays. It has it all - decorations, presents, a grand meal, family tradition, a religious origin, symbolic icons, parades, music and extreme commercialism. And like only a handful of other holidays, it has an “-eve” to welcome its arrival. It even has its very own season with its very own greeting... "Season's Greetings." Yes, Christmas might just represent the pinnacle of what every holiday aspires to be.

Which means that all other holidays are lacking by comparison. Where’s the justice? Why should some holidays receive all the glory while others deserve only a footnote on the calendar?

There are other holidays that have religious overtones, perhaps even more so than Christmas. Take Easter, for instance. Not just one day, but actually three starting on Thursday night, through Good Friday (aren't all Fridays good?) and ending on the evening of Easter Sunday. Talk about holiday potential! Instead of one day, there are three solid days for gift giving, parties and festivities. Imagine the commercial build-up. Imagine the spectacle. Throw in a Monday and it can't lose.

But no, all we get is a cheesy bunny. He somehow lays multi-colored eggs and then cleverly hides them. If we’re lucky, he pushes out - I don’t want to know from where - some that are made of chocolate and puts them and other candy in a basket with plastic grass that gets everywhere.

And speaking of candy, what about Halloween? Here’s a holiday that’s not a holiday. There are the parties, sure… and decorations galore, but there has never been a day off. An included day off really is a must for any self-respecting holiday.

There are holidays better known by the dates they fall on like the Fourth of July or, hijacked from our neighbors to the south, Cinco de Mayo.

Then there are the “Monday” holidays. These are the holidays that are on one day, but “observed” on another. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Veterans Day, Memorial Day and George Washington’s Birthday (before it was given an identity crisis by combining it with Lincoln’s Birthday into “Presidents Day”) from their original date to a convenient Monday so federal employees would have more three-day weekends.

The act also created Columbus Day, the dumbest holiday of all time - glorifying a wayward sailor who got lost and discovered… India. No. America. No - India. No, ok, America, but let’s call the people there Indians. Oddly enough, there is no Indian or Native American Day. It wasn’t a “new” world to them, they knew it was here all along.

After protests by veterans groups, in 1978 Veteran’s Day was moved back to its original November 11th date. The vets felt it had lost its importance and had become nothing more than just another three-day weekend.

Lost its importance?

Well then, let’s move on to some of the more innocuous holidays. In no particular order and with no particular importance, some of the most pointless are: Groundhog Day, Flag Day, the afore mentioned Presidents Day, Pioneer Day, Patriot’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the ever-popular Grandparent’s Day.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, here are some of the “unofficial” holidays created to commemorate God knows what: Bloomsday, Buy Nothing Day, Friendship Day, Husband Appreciation Day, Wife Appreciation Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, International Kitchen Garden Day, Mole Day, Monkey Day, National Gorilla Day and a day that needs no description - No Pants Day.

Yes, seemingly there is a holiday for every occasion. Not yet mentioned - Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I have one of each and I am a father - these are among my favorite holidays. It was not always the case - when I was young, there was the perennial question children always ask, “How come there’s no Kids’ Day?” The reply, always the same, “Every day is kids’ day.”

And so it is.

That must be why adults need so many damned holidays.


Ellen said...

I have a particular feelings for holidays as most of my family members (including all relatives by marriage) have birthdays or anniversaries on them. One sad note though, many of them also die on them. My favorite of all... Mothers Day, as my son shares his birthday with it every 7 years or so.

Why do we have so many? Who knows... but it sure bodes well for the greeting card company.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, my 2c, What I would love is to celebrate the 4th of July on a Friday every year. Make it Independence Day Weekend. Sure it's been great this year with the 4th actually on a Friday and in 2009 on a Saturday. But it really dampens the party when the 4th is on like a Tuesday.
I know it sound a bit unpatriotic, and I know it would never fly, but it sure has to be a pretty unproductive day around the country when July 5th is on a weekday.

Lacey said...

Any excuse to distract us from the daily grind, I say...

Especially Talk Like a Pirate Day... Yarrr!!!

David Edward said...

a big thank you to all the Veterans who served and sacrificed for our country, and for many other nations.
here from michele's

Anonymous said...

My feeling of national holidays goes to "Father's day and Mother's day" you mention. Father’s Day and Mother's Day is celebrated worldwide to recognize the contribution that fathers and father, mother and mother figures make to the lives of their children. This day celebrates fatherhood and male parenting. Although it is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide, many countries observe the day.


Anonymous said...

On June 26th, 1870, Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the U.S. Interestingly enough, on the same date, according to legend, in 1284, the Pied Piper lured 130 kids from Hamelin.

Good to see ya, Mr. Althouse.