February 20, 2006

Should Presidents' Day Be Canceled?

There are some holidays that are huge events steeped in centuries of history and tradition - Christmas and Halloween being obvious choices, with the 4th of July and Thanksgiving making a run for it here in the US. Others are more like Hallmark holidays - you're aware of them, and have some obligation to fill, such as St. Patricks Day, Valentines Day, and Memorial Day.

But Presidents' Day is such a hodgepodge. It used to be two distinct holidays commemorating Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's birthday. When I was in elementary school, we got both of the days off, so February was a relatively easy month. Now, with it consolidated and falling on the most convenient Monday available, neither Lincoln or Washington get their due - after all, we will be working on Washington's birthday, and Lincoln's birthday was on a Sunday - where's the fun in that? And now that we're actually out of elementary school, it's not as if anybody celebrates what those two leaders did for us anyway. All it means is that the stock markets are canceled, schools get a day off, and most people don't have to go to the office. But I don't think you've given Lincoln and Washington more than a cursory thought today.

Let's scrap the idea. Either celebrate both men's birthdays individually, two weeks apart, or kill the idea, and make room for other days to be celebrated. I know I could always take my birthday off, or my wife's. That would make more sense.