So if I were to ask you what defines a holiday what answer would you give? How would you describe in words what or when a holiday occurs? There could be a question you might want to ask off at the beginning through a clarification by asking what holidays am I even writing about?
To clear this up here are the official holidays of the United States Government: New Year’s Day; Martin Luther King Jr. Day; President George Washington’s birthday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving Day; and we have remaining in 2013 Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
Each of these holidays are different. New Year’s Day is unique for the United States because the beginning of the calendar year is celebrated differently by some countries. I never have worried a great deal about this fact or thought much at all about it, except to know I am an American and for me New Year’s Day will always signify a new year. What defines the holiday for me is a big ball that drops in the City of New York. I realize that other cities also have countdown, for instance in Nashville, Tennessee they drop a big guitar. In Key West, they have a big shoe that drops on the island celebrating New Year’s. For most, the iconic symbol in New York City signifies the moment each year.
The birthday of Marin Luther King Jr., is marked by citizens marching carrying banners about freedom and equality. Politicians and most notably preachers will be giving speeches about civil rights, lessons about a period in history that is wished we could be erase, and the defining symbol is remembering the speech “I have a Dream” from the Washington Mall.
Our first president, George Washington, who was inaugurated in New York City in April 30, 1789, gets a federal holiday. This moment is most easily thought of by thinking about those “wigs” yes, the men in that day were distinguished by the “wigs” they wore in moments of pomp and circumstance. Sadly this day has been over taken by the retail world and our nations salute in part is celebrated by mattress sales and other retail discounts. This should not be the case in my opinion, but it is. In this article I have just written a fact that I venture to say most American’s are not even aware of. That is, where the first inauguration was held. No it was not Washington, D.C. All the more reason to make this moment a much more celebrated historical event of importance.
Memorial Day is defined by flowers, gravesides, visits to memorials honoring those who gave their life for our country and our loved ones who have passed into eternal life. This holiday is a solemn event celebrated by ceremonies and images of dignitary’s placing wreaths signify our respect for their sacrifice. Memorial Day is very personal for me because of our family’s tradition and manner in which we honor our loved ones and those that served our nation.
Independence Day is maybe the easiest of all for someone to describe in words. Fireworks, fireworks, and did I mention fireworks.
Labor Day is that September holiday that has lost her meaning to most American’s. For many it is a sign that summer has ended. It is last minute trips or breaks to get away that family take advantage of. The retail world also love this holiday. It is defined for some by the advertising circulars that promote the best sale of the year, outside of a ‘Black Friday’ moment. It is important to honor Labor Day and personally I think it is a great opportunity to remind Americans that how we became the nation we are is through labor. People worked. Dreamed vision, had ideas and dedicated themselves to build industry through ideas, and yes Labor in the building of America was blood, sweat, and tears.
Columbus Day is now another retail holiday with the exception for those where these early historical event took place.
Veterans Day has regained a national prominence in our salute to those that served and serve. Our understanding of their sacrifice has brought renewed appreciation and much deserved respect.
The Thanksgiving season is easy to identify. Not so much by the images of pilgrims anymore but more so by the thought of turkey. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year and the shortest lived holiday by many American’s because of the over shadowing of the people’s celebration of Halloween and the other approaching holiday, Christmas The retail world floods the market place and Thanksgiving is now seen as kick-off of 27 days of sales mania.
The next holiday to be celebrated is Christmas. No denying the spiritual or religious connection, although some do and will. Christmas is easily defined by symbols. The evergreen to begin with, the poinsettia plant, and yes, the manger scene with the baby Jesus in a cradle. The one thing that quickly defines the season of Christmas is without a doubt music. You will hear it everywhere and for millions of American’s the music is Christmas.
Our nation is unique and I love living here! The most important part of our country is not our holidays but rather it is our freedoms. This first week of December is behind us. The final days of the year are in countdown and we should not neglect to remember why or what makes America who she is.