The Non Holiday Holiday

Columbus Day — We celebrate it to recognize an explorer who braved the unknown to discover the New World for Spain. But do we?  The Banks and Post Offices are closed, and much of the Government (not taking the shut down into consideration). In some places schools are closed, but most places they are not.

Businesses are, for the most part open, and except for retail, they aren’t acting like they are open. My email is dead, the phone isn’t ringing. My belief is that most people think other people are out on holiday, so they don’t call.  But they aren’t.

So all in all, Columbus Day becomes a big “whoop di doo.”

When I was in grammar school, back when we took the buckboard to school, it was a much bigger deal. We made cut outs of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. We heard stories of explorers fearing that they would fall off the edge of the world. Columbus knew better, we were told, because he watched the ships disappear on the horizon and noted that the bottom of the ships disappeared first, the tops of the masts last.  Hince, a round world.

We know he named the locals Indians because he thought they were in India.  He made what, four voyages. and was also a Provencal governor. His sponsors were Fernand and Isabella of Spain.

But, these folks were the space explorers of the 15th century. They were sailing rickety little ships, didn’t know really where they were going, and frankly didn’t know if they would return. You gotta have respect for them.

But back to the holiday.  We appear of have ‘dumbed down’ holidays. First we moved them from the day they were originally set on to the “first, second or whatever” Monday so we could have three day weekends.  We combined some (Washington and Lincoln became ‘presidents day’, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day have been blurred together etc) and other seem to have lost their significance (Columbus Day is a good example.)

In the UK they have “bank holidays” when everything shuts down. They are what they are — days that people get off for a short vacation. At least they tell it like it is and don’t try to gussy it up with a fancy name. Its a day off — pure and simple.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a day of as much as the next guy, but we have to be careful. First I don’t think that a person should be celebrated until they have been dead at least 75 years.  If their good deeds can stand three generations, they maybe they are worth it. I think the same thing goes for naming public buildings, airports, streets and the like.  We seem to get caught in the emotion of the moment — and suddenly we have Cape Kennedy, which was changed back to Cape Canaveral.

The Romans had holidays for practically everything and before long there were more days off than there were working days.  And when that happened, Rome fell. Cause and Effect, probably.

We need time off from our daily grind to rest and refuel, but how much?  The Europeans get up to about seven weeks vacation a year. I think that’s overkill.  The cost to the economy, not to mention the cost to the workers (do you know how much it costs to go to Disneyland) is monumental.

Much of the good that we have here in America is based on hard work, not time off. Kids were off in the summer to help with the crops. We have no kids helping with crops today so why do we have three months off in school.  Think how much more they would learn if they had all those more school days.

When we moved the holidays to Monday, we began to loose the meaning of the holiday. What comes next?

JVH

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