Holidays We Should Celebrate
As a rule, I like to celebrate everything I can. And why not? Holidays are a time of joy, a time of coming together, a time to find our common humanity again, a reason to perk up on a dreary day. They don’t need to be a big deal—just a simple, inclusionary reason to celebrate for the times when the wonder of the universe isn’t enough.
Now that spring has sprung, we’re mostly beyond the most incendiary holiday season, aka “winter,” which is a virtual holiday miasma what with the Christmas Day people and the Christmas Eve people; the Hanukkah-as-Christmas people and the straight Hanukkah people; the Kwanza people and the Ramadan people; the Festivus people, the Pagans, and the Grumps. And of course the people I left out—for perspective, approximately 2.7 billion of them. Profuse apologies.
And now we’re coming up on a holiday that causes severe derangement in a close personal friend of mine, as well as the next most incendiary holiday season, aka “spring,” where we have three kinds of Christian Easter, Passover, the birth of Mohammed, the Strictly Easter Bunny people, Chinese New Year, Persian New Year, and I’ll throw in Ukrainians, who I firmly believe worship lacquered colored eggs.
But a lot of the holidays noted above are not the best choices. Some of them celebrate something awful that happened to someone else. Some of them require being inadvertently insulting. Some of them involve shelling out loads of dough and taking on loads of stress.
So I thought I’d make a list of holidays that everyone can celebrate, or at least that all reasonable people who live in the United States can participate in. I figure we need at least one gathering a month.
Without further ado, I present to my American compatriots, my list of…
Holidays We Should Celebrate
January: Elvis' Birthday (January 8)
Elvis symbolizes the beauty of rising to one’s abilities, the consequences of having everything you want, and the kindred spirit that exists everywhere between lovers of shiny, sparkly things.
February: Surprise, You're An Idiot (February 2/Groundhog’s Day)
We’ve got a beloved land-beaver basically choosing between six of one and a half dozen of the other for a zero-sum result. People dress up funny and wait in the rain for this. We also learn scientific principles about repeatability: the same inputs yield the same outputs, but different inputs yield different outputs. It’s the same lesson that can be found in the movie of the same name. This holiday is about the practical application of humility and logic.
March: Smarch (as needed)
Stolen from The Simpsons, but they just called it like they see’d it. Gray. Slush. The ubiquitous dog poop of spring. Smarch is about endurance.
April: The Season of Doing It
The Christians do it, the Muslims do it, even Jews and pagans do it… Holidays the world over celebrate birds doing it. Some of them put on fancy airs, but really it’s all about making something out of nothing. Most of us know that Christian Easter is the gruesome offspring of Passover—if Jesus hadn’t been in town celebrating Passover, he wouldn’t have gotten busted. But if you can get past that unpleasantness, there are some really beautiful common areas. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring, which is the day that night and day share evenly. Now why should that be? Because Easter was originally a holiday celebrating the Babylonian goddess of the dawn, Eos, a tradition picked up by the wandering Tribe of Israel when they were in captivity. “Mary” (of Virgin Mary fame) is actually a variation of the name “Verna,” which is rooted in the Latin word for spring (vernal equinox), the time for rebirth. Mary, Easter, birth, dawn—it’s all about new beginnings.
May: May Day (May 1)
This is a holiday of action. Growing up, here’s how I celebrated it: make colorful baskets out of construction paper and fill them with popcorn and flowers and gumdrops. Then go hang them on people’s doorknobs, ring the bell, and run away. It usually helps if your mother makes a call afterward. The way my ancestors celebrated it, you go on strike to get the work day down to ten hours, have a picnic, and celebrate the Working Man. The epic group Rush, who are a bunch of commie Canadians anyway, were inspired to write a tune about this event. Being Canadian, they lament the length of an eight-hour workday. Oh, how I long to be Canadian. But if I were Canadian, I’d have no reason to celebrate our next holiday…
June: Juneteenth (when you find out about it)
This is the Original Freedom Day. After American slavery ended, the news was slow to travel, particularly in Texas. It simply slipped Ol’ Whitey’s mind to mention it. So when slaves did find out, and double-checked and triple-checked and even got Ol’ Whitey to remember, they par-tayed. So this day is about paying attention to the news and confirming hearsay. It also comes with a picnic.
July: Merica (Fourth of July)
Merica Day is also called “Independence Day” and “the Fourth of July,” but nowadays we can reinvent it as “Merica Day.” This day is about not making apologies. Light things on fire, make loud noises, wear cut-off shorts, eat red-white-and-blue Jell-O cake and potato salad. Not German potato salad. Merican potato salad. Don’t do anything too unforgiveable, though; it’s a lot easier to not make apologies if you don’t have much to apologize for.
August: It’s Too Hot and I'm Bored (as needed)
Traditionally, August has been hot and boring. All the charm and appeal of windless 100 degree heat has worn off. Your cute summer clothes are stained and yellow. You’re either sunburned to the point of not being able to be exposed to the sun again, ever, or are still inexplicably bone white, leading to rumors of a summer spent lying in front of the air conditioner (wasted!) or a meth habit (definitely wasted). August. Hot. Boring. Well, cheer up, or at least hose off: this day is about hope. Make the best of it by dragging yourself onto the back porch; add a beer and a friend and talk about all the things you would do if only it weren’t so hot and boring. Or, in the knowing words of Bruce Campbell, “I’m going to need a bar of soap and a bottle of Jack. Not in that order.”
September: Labor Day
I suggest Labor Day for two reasons. One, it already comes with a day off from work for most of us; two, we should really utilize it as a second Mother’s Day, provided Mother has not eaten her children after a few months without school. It’s well-known and oft-repeated that mothers of all stripes enjoy being presented with a messed-up kitchen and flowers ripped from their carefully honed gardens very early in the morning. Add some tequila, and you’ll be thanking Mom twice this year for all she does. Go ahead and drink to Dad, too. If you don’t have/know either of your parents, drink to Lucy, our mitochondrial forbear, and thank her for giving you lips like a monkey and not like a cat.
October: I'm Something! (Oct 31)
A lot of people enjoy role-playing games, but relegate them to secret weekend existences. That’s still generally the preferred methodology, but on this occasion you can come out of the closet, because this holiday is about taking chances. Most of your pals will laugh and slap you on the back and say, “Great costume, man!” when you reveal your alter ego, but others will unsmilingly wink or nod. If you’re at a loss as to what part of your complex personality to expose, remember: everyone loves drunk and sexy. I said this was about taking chances, right?
By “Thanksgiving,” I do actually mean the day we call “Thanksgiving.” And yes, I know that’s another one of these Eastery-type things where one group does another group wrong, confusion ensues, and we spend a couple thousand years still mad about it—so on the surface it appears to be a poor choice for holidays we should celebrate. But I think it’s an important life lesson to hold an event focused on long periods of gluttony, when we mostly are not giving thanks so much as taking and assuming. We rarely help and barely even thank the cooks, be they of the greasy diner or Grandma variety. But afterward, our ill manners are punished.… the slow moaning of one’s pants as they attempt to test the bounds of human ingenuity; the evening spent jammed into a room watching home movies with relatives, wondering whose particular gas is wafting; the week of turkey you have to eat Bubba Gump style (turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey balls, turkey tetrazzini, turkey casserole). It has been said that forgiveness is the scent of a violet after you have crushed it with your shoe. The aftermath of Thanksgiving is the cruelest reminder that greed and unchecked license have consequences as well, and that ain’t no forgiveness you’re smelling.
December: Winter Solstice/Christmas/Jewish Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Grump
OK, so we’re back full circle. Here’s where the trouble starts and ends. And that’s the lesson. Trouble starts, but trouble also ends. We get through it with our family, our friends, and our gastrointestinal systems, and we learn such things as fortitude, consequences, and hope. And true, sometimes it is our family, friends, and/or gastrointestinal systems that are the trouble. But aren’t you glad to have them all? Aren’t you? Ohhhh, my friend, your lackluster response can only indicate that you are in need of some Vitamin D. Bolster your resolve with a White Russian and get out there. Elvis’ Birthday is just around the corner.
Copyright 2010, Denise Pace
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