Happy St. Jean Baptiste Day? Huh?
Now that the Enron situation is pretty well under control, we need to direct the nation’s energies to a new task: Making sense of all these minor holidays.
We have a three-tier holiday system in the United States:
At the top are the truly big holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day. Almost everyone gets the day off except for the guy at the convenience store who got on the wrong side of the boss.
Next are the mid-level holidays – Columbus Day, Veterans Day and the like. Banks close and government employees get the day off, but everyone else has to work. No one is certain what they’re supposed to do on these holidays – how many families have a Columbus Day tradition? – so these holidays exist largely to allow shopping malls and car dealers to have sales.
The troubling holidays, however, are those at the bottom of the food chain – April Fool’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day.
All of them are listed on my desk calendar as holidays, but I don’t know anyone who actually observes them.
Tell your boss you’re taking St. Patrick’s Day off this year to spend it with your family. Ask the human resources department if you’ll be paid double time for working April Fool’s Day. Even the banks are open on Valentine’s Day.
So why bother? If bars need a reason to dump some green dye into a couple of kegs of beer, couldn’t they simply do it once in a while? Do they need the sanction provided by a calendar? And wouldn’t many of us be willing to send $10 a year to our favorite greeting card company rather than feel the guilt that comes from forgetting, once again, to buy a card for St. Jean Baptiste Day?
Let’s just clear a bunch of these minor holidays from the calendar and be done with them!
There is a model for this, you know. Those of a certain age can remember the tradition of May Day baskets – cheesy little plastic baskets filled with candy and delivered to doorsteps on May 1.
But then the Soviet Union – anybody remember the Soviet Union? – decided to parade its military past Lenin’s tomb on May 1. All of us innocent kids with our May baskets suddenly found ourselves participating in a Communist Party holiday. May Day was gone in a hurry.
So this week’s discussion question is this: If it’s the only way to get rid of some of these minor holidays, how many of us would support bringing the Soviet Union back for a couple of years?
John Seelmeyer is editor of The Union, and his column appears on Saturday.
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