Re:scheduling the holidays

A well-scheduled Thanksgiving: Shopping for pumpkins in Ottawa's Byward Market. Photo: Lars Plougmann, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

A well-scheduled Thanksgiving: Shopping for pumpkins in Ottawa’s Byward Market. Photo: Lars Plougmann, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

I was at my monthly library board meeting last night when the coming year’s holiday schedule of library closings was brought up for a vote. It occurred to me that if we could really vote when our holidays would be, I would cast my vote for Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls this coming Monday. George Washington was clearly thinking like a Virginian when he designated the fourth Thursday of November, 1789 to be a day of national thanksgiving.

Had he been a North Country boy, he would certainly have gone for the second Monday in October. The harvest is in and mostly still fresh. By the end of November, everything in the area other than starch and meat is coming from California, Florida, Mexico or Israel. In October the chance of good weather is high, while I can’t count how many times I’ve taken life in hand to blast through lake effect blizzards going to or coming from Thanksgiving gatherings. I gave thanks every time I reached the driveway unslaughtered. And besides, it is too close to Christmas. Thanksgiving, for all practical purposes, has been eaten up by the holiday shopping season, which now starts five minutes after Halloween.

Of course, such a sensible change raises the thorny issue of what to do with Columbus Day. I wouldn’t want to drop it altogether; Italian Americans are known for their temper. My wife suggested “Explorers Day” celebrating all the intrepid navigators from Leif Ericson to Columbus to Champlain. It could occur in the first week of August, when Columbus actually first set foot on the (South) American mainland (Venezuela) in 1498, or early August 1502, when he first set foot on the North American mainland (in Mexico). He never did set foot on what is now U.S. soil. Plus, August has no national holidays at all, so it wouldn’t feel crowded there.

Care to rearrange any other holidays? Like–what’s up with Easter? The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox? Really? Care to propose any new holidays? Have at it in a comment below.


14 Comments on “Re:scheduling the holidays”

  1. Lillian Richardson says:

    What a great idea! I have always wished we could have more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is especially true since I retired and spend my winters in the south. I just get down (don’t want to leave before the colors) and have to decide if I will make two trips north for the two holidays, one trip and stay the weeks in between or only do Christmas with the family. I’ve tried every option and none is perfect. Your solution would solve all my problems.

  2. Nelly Case says:

    Wasn’t it Pres. Eisenhower in the 1950s who officially set Thanksgiving where it is now?

  3. Pete Klein says:

    Not everyone lives up here where all the leaves are down by mid October.
    And where would you stop changing holiday dates?
    When Christmas arrives, its summer south of the equator. Should they celebrate Christmas on June 25?
    Some Easters come early and some come late. I’ve even seen snow in NYC on Easter.
    We not only seem addicted to fooling around with the dates for holidays (now just about everything falls on a Monday without regard to the actual date), we even keep fooling around with when the sun sets and rises.
    I guess its a power trip thing.

  4. Dale Hobson says:

    Nell–George Washington’s first Thanksgiving Day was a one-off in 1789. Lincoln declared a Thanksgiving Day on the same fourth Thursday in November, in 1863. But observances have varied over time and from state to state. Pres. Roosevelt began the now scheduled national observance by signing a Joint Congressional Resolution in 1941.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

  5. Byron Whitney says:

    I think we should have a “No more Monday holidays” holiday on a Wednesday, perhaps in April.

  6. Sunshine says:

    I work in education and instead of having snow days, I think having sun days would be a grand idea. Just think…that morning you wake up during a seige of dreary days and the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the air just the perfect temperature (70)…close down everything that gets closed on snow days and close them for a fun sun day.

  7. Dale Burnett says:

    I am so in favor of your suggestion for moving Thanksgiving to October. If it’s to give thanks for the harvest, it seems a little late, and it never gets its full emphasis, being over-shadowed by Christmas preparations. On the other hand, bleak, dreary November does need something to commend it. As for August, I kind of like having a month with no holiday. Let’s leave it alone.

  8. Joseph S says:

    If we put holidays on an uncorrected lunar calendar, every holiday would be during the best weather every thirty years! But also during the worst weather every thirty years 🙁

  9. Michael Greer says:

    Moving Christmas and New Years day to the winter solstice would be a lot more efficient and truly make more sense, or maybe leaving Christmas out of that time of year altogether. Didn’t it used to fall in May or something?

  10. Michael Greer says:

    I think we need more holidays in general. All these forty hour work weeks only serve to make the rich richer, while the working classes spend too much time away from family and community. We should all stop working for the man from harvest until the end of hunting season, and then get back to work when the weather gets too cold…we’d all be happier.

  11. Pete Klein says:

    Because of the nature of my job, I couldn’t care less if all holidays were done away with.

  12. Michael Greer says:

    Who would want to hang out with an old crank-butt like you anyway, eh?

  13. Joseph S says:

    More holidays didn’t help urban Romans close the income gap. It just gave the oligarchs more opporunities to distract people with bread and circus.

  14. Frances fairchild says:

    You are so right. We’re close enough to Canada, so we could use their Thansgiving Day. maybe simultaneously with Columbus day.
    My husband remarked if Columbus could have foreseen what our government has come to, he would have turned around and left America undiscovered !

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