Are Holidays Warping Society?

Now that we have a lull in holidays here in the United States, let’s talk about them. Some recent chatter on my Facebook profile has me thinking that holidays are being warped by society.
Or maybe society is being warped by the endless deluge of holidays.
Every day is National “something” Day, but no one pays attention except the marketers of whatever that something is.
Worse are the actual nationally recognized holidays that are treated as another excuse for a sale or to overeat (or drink to excess).
What is a holiday? Why is Mother’s Day sweet and Father’s Day swept over? And who decided everything (even selfies) needed a day of recognition?

Holiday Defined

According to Merriam-Webster, these are the top four definitions:

1. Holy day (does this need explanation?)
2. A day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
3. Vacation – chiefly the British definition
4. A period of exemption or relief

In the case of this blog post, we’ll accept the second definition. Most people consider a special day off of work as a holiday. We all prefer these are PAID holidays, but that’s not the point of this post.
So, the day is not just for sleeping in and throwing a party. Notice the last part of the definition: “in commemoration of an event.”
What’s commemoration? Again, Merriam-Webster helps us out. It’s a call to remembrance or mark significance by ceremony or observance.
On Mother’s Day we remember our mothers by bringing them cards and gifts. Perhaps taking them out to lunch or dinner.

No Love on Father’s Day

Father’s Day should include the remembrance of fathers. They should be showered with cards and gifts.
Recently, I observed an interesting (and I thought amusing) difference in the WAY mothers and fathers liked to observe their holidays. I posted on Facebook this innocent comparison:

Father’s Day: Dad wants to grill his meal
Mother’s Day: Mom doesn’t want to cook or clean

I found this entertaining because Mom generally cooks on EVERY day, so in honor of her special day, she’d like a break from that work. Isn’t that the very definition of holiday (see number two definition above)? But since Father’s aren’t generally (meaning I know this isn’t true in ALL cases, so no men need to get offended at my admitted generalization) responsible for cooking, they want to play with their grill and cook up some fatty brats and burgers (or steak and ribs).
One female friend responded that my observation was true.
Two male friends said they noticed that father’s were generally disregarded on Father’s Day in lieu of celebrating the women who were both mother and father to their children.
What about the single dads who were both mother and father? Why no commendation for them?
The truth is, I have little contact with my own father and haven’t given him a card or anything else in more than 35 years. But I spoil my husband (as much as he’ll let me) because he’s the most important father in my life these days: the father of my sons.
Is the culture of women’s equality affecting the way we observe Father’s Day?

National “Whatever” Day

The reason I think many holidays are getting bland treatment is because the marketing department heads work overtime to create days to sell products.
On National Flip-Flop Day, there will be a huge discount on the disposable footwear of summer. National Selfie Day promotes selfie sticks and smart phones.


The fact that we’ve made every day a commemoration of something has watered down the exclusivity and sacredness of actual national holidays.
“Oh, it’s just another day.” And so some great fathers get no recognition (or veteran’s or soldiers who died in battle—who are to be honored and remembered on Memorial Day).
I’d joked with one of the men who commented about this disparity on my Facebook post, “We should have a National Appreciate Someone Day.”

And we both claimed that Monday as the day to appreciate someone and we affirmed each other.

Because adding such a day would only exacerbate the problem. Stores would carry “I appreciate you” mugs and florists would sell “You’re appreciated” balloons. Money would be made, but the impact would be trampled beneath the push to commercialize the day meant for connection.
Every day of our lives should be marked by gratitude for the courtesy, hard work and dedication of those around us. It should be an automatic thing to say, “Thank you” (and mean it) and tell people how much we appreciate the things they do.
What do you think? Are the abundance of holidays warping the effectiveness of those days to commemorate special people or events?

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What is a holiday – really?

A holiday is when you don’t have to go to work. If that is the true definition, every person who is retired from employment, or unemployed, experiences a holiday each and every day of the year.

Merriam-Webster says a holiday is “a special day of celebration when one is exempt from work or specifically a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event.” Of course, the first full definition listed is simply “holy day.”

Ah, yes. A holy day. Something specific to religious celebration and thus not politically correct to address in polite conversation. As you’ve long suspected, political correctness falls further down my list of priorities than simple straightforward honest expression.

My list of “holy day”s

As for days of religious significance, I would mark three: Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

In my mind, all three of these days draw special attention to the One in my world to whom I ascribe deity and offer worship. In honor of political correctness, I want everyone to understand these dates reflect my personal opinion and aren’t meant to infringe on anyone’s freedom to disagree.

Even though Christmas, like almost all “holy days” on our traditional calendar, has pagan roots, I consider it the day to honor the birth of Jesus Christ. He is a historical figure so my celebration of his birth should be no more offensive than honoring February 12 as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In my world, this date involves revisiting the account of Christ’s birth as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This generally happens in the wee, dark hours of December 25. Afterwards, my family does paganistic things like opening Christmas stockings and unwrapping gifts beneath the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

In the spring, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a foundational doctrine for the sect called Christianity. For me, it offers hope that transcends the life I now live.

Easter always falls on Sunday. My family attends church services (as we do each Sunday of the year) and worships the living Savior. Afterwards, we feast on ham and buttered noodles (sacrilegious according to Old Testament dietary guidelines) and play games. Laughter is a staple around our table.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts on the subject, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Although it is a manmade day, it was founded on the principal of giving thanks to God. Our family shares one thing we’re thankful for as we surround the table laden with turkey, stuffing and all the traditional trimmings.

My list of commemorative celebrations

How crazy is it that in a country where the federal government claims eleven national holidays, I consider only three to be “holy days”? One of my holidays isn’t even considered to be a “national holiday” to the U.S. government.

Bonus points to you if you can list these eleven holidays and their dates (without checking either your calendar or an internet search engine). Can you do it? Make sure to take credit in the comments if you can.

In my family, we celebrate January 1 with food and games. Sometimes a large crowd gathers and other times it is just the four who reside under our roof. In case you’re wondering, this is New Year’s Day, and Uncle Sam consents to call this a holiday (not that I need his approval).

Other dates that fall on neither my nor the national register are Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps these are important days in your world. Aren’t you glad you’re free to observe them – even if you have to call in sick or take a personal day from your place of employment to do so?

My family ushers in the barbecuing season on Memorial Day. No, this isn’t what the day is supposed to be about. Most of the time, it is also near my wedding anniversary, so my husband and I have been known to fly the coop together during this holiday.

Both my mother and grandmother actually took flowers and visited the graves of people who had passed away on this day. That is a more accurate celebration for a holiday that was originally known as “Decoration Day.” You guessed it. People actually decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers on this day. Some people consider it the beginning of summer recreation (making my barbecuing tradition less blasphemous).

For many years, July 4th was a family gathering with a picnic and birthday cake. Not in honor of Independence Day (the official name of the holiday), but in honor of my only niece’s birthday. Now, she’s an adult. We still like to fire up the barbie and the kid’s like to blow money on fireworks.

Amidst all off these dates, we have other special days known as “birthdays.” I won’t bog you down with the actual calendar numbers, but our family likes to celebrate these days. I’ve even lobbied for this day being granted as a day off from traditional employment.

Around here, I like to make the person’s favorite meal for dinner and whatever sort of dessert they want for their “birthday cake.” My sons believe I’m a terrible person because I stopped wrapping up packages for them on their 19th birthday. Cards and dinners, I’m still on top of that, but why does a birthday have to be about getting gifts?

For years, we celebrated Labor Day by going camping. We wanted to get one last hurrah in before the drudgery of school set in for the kids. Now that we’re all finished with school (well, my youngest has one more year of college), we might have a barbecue and play games.

My actual list of holidays numbers less than eleven, unless you count the birthdays individually. If you do that, I have eleven special days every year – in perfect harmony with Uncle Sam (well, except for the actual dates and significance).

Your list

Please chime in with comments about those days you find significant on your calendar of events. You know, special days of “celebration when you are exempt from work in commemoration of an event.”

Don’t forget to take the poll. Share it with your friends. Don’t you wonder what they consider the most commemorative days of the year?