Monday, September 03, 2007

How Roman Of Us

Last year PSoTD posed the question "what does Labor Day mean to you?' I missed that one and haven't a clue as to how to answer this year's, so I thought I'd combine Random Flickr Blogging with my feelings on the subject.

IMG_4159, originally uploaded by skiltondennis.

Labor Day has become one more of an endless and worse than that, meaningless, string of holidays trivialized to evoke artificial happiness but in reality designed to market wares that people can't afford and don't need, at a so-called discounted price.

When I was a little girl, the holidays had individual atmospheres, they all looked, felt and smelled different. The great part was you occasionally got a day off on odd days of the week, which was a big thing to a kid. It broke up the monotony of school, sort of like a snow day. Then they combined Lincoln's birthday with Washington's and it became President's Day, occurring only on Mondays, no matter what the real birthdays were. Now everyone that wasn't a boss could have an occasional three day weekend. Wasn't that thoughtful? It also meant that everyone was now competing for for the same vacation spaces at the same time. At that point all the holidays started to run together into one big yearlong shopping extravaganza.

We start with January, a month that was barren until it got its token holiday a few years ago. February has the delicious shopping whammy of Valentines Day ($ and guilt), closely followed by President's Day. They can hardly switch the ads fast enough, six o'clock on Valentines Day and now you're looking at the linens on sale instead of diamonds. March has St. Patrick's Day with Easter making an occasional appearance. April starts with Othe Fool's Day, which technically doesn't count. Yet. It's getting bigger every year.

Advertisers would prefer it if Easter showed up about the second week of April because depending on a holiday that is based on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, has a little too much variance and the distance to Mother's Day in May can be almost two months. That's a long time in the advertising world. Now, I'm rather fond of May since it contains my birthday, but that is the weekend that all the prices for everything from vacations to movies increases in price. No discounts for me.

Memorial Day kicks off the summer with the first big barbecue, not that anyone remembers why, but you can wear white shoes without Miss Manners getting upset. Flag Day used to be a big thing before it was discarded in favor of the shopping highest day for collect calls opportunity called Father's Day. But it's okay because they get to wave the flag a few weeks later on July 4. Independence Day is one of the big three, it gets celebrated on its day. Like it was Christmas or New Year's except there aren't as many parades and you get hot dogs.

August has no individual holidays, it's considered the vacation month, but that would have changed if it had been August 11 instead of September 11. A new national holiday would have been created because they had the space. Have no fear they are able to market the back-to-school sales without a disguise. It used to be just clothes and supplies but now it includes expensive electronics and new cars. Plus as a bonus, they start with the not so subtle pre-Christmas sales such as artificial white trees with orange and black decorations.

Oh my, it's Labor Day. The holiday that is supposed to celebrate the "common" workers and all they have done to make this country great. Well, since the majority of the people don't "labor" and even after watching the recent coal mine tragedies they still don't comprehend the work that goes into keeping this country on its feet. It has become the excuse for the end of the summer party and the last official day for those white shoes. And nothing else. Labor is for those who get dirt under their nails and if they know their place, they aren't seen in town.

It's a long time until the next holiday which isn't all that big, imagine what could happen if Ramadan and Rosh Hashana counted. Oh, the opportunities they are missing. Instead they have to wait for six weeks until the kids celebrate Columbus Day, a fake holiday if there ever was one. Meanwhile, the adults rev up for Halloween. It used to be a kid's holiday, but now it is more of an excuse for adults to run around in costumes all day long since it isn't safe for kids to go trick-or-treating and nobody gets home at five anyways.

On to the buffet, otherwise known as Thanksgiving. Yes, I know that Veteran's Day is in between, but it doesn't mean as much as it used to, it's just an excuse for banks and school kids to play hooky. Besides those veterans are dying off and since they don't have any money to spend it isn't really a holiday anymore. Support those troops. Back to Thanksgiving, where families get together and stuff themselves with rarely the slightest thought as to how precious that food would have been to the original settlers.

Finally! It's the last big push towards Christmas. Shop till you drop. Diamonds, toys and car commercials everywhere you turn. Everyone you know must receive a gift, Santa says so. Never mind that it used to be a religious/pagan holiday, now it's the holiday that determines the retailers whole year.

Only seven more days, which now include a new holiday called Kwanzaa, until the last/first holiday of the year. Guess what? There are still the end-of-the-year sales before you start drinking champagne. Everything that hasn't sold needs to go because they don't want to count it for tax purposes and they want to downsize all the extra help they brought in for the shopping season.

Just like the guy who used to operate the equipment above.

Random Flickr Blogging
is a project of If I Ran The Zoo.

Crossposted at 3Bs.


  1. Labor Day is that day when working folk gang together and discuss how truly exceptional it is that they all have jobs.

    On Memorial Day they count the bodies of those who have lost theirs.

  2. Labo[u]r Day is, to me, the last breath of fresh air before the hordes of students descend upon the university where I work.

    (And up here in Canada, or at least in Manitoba, we have a civic holiday in August. To my knowledge it's simply known as August Long Weekend, and it holds both the National Ukrainian Festival, and Islendingadagurinn (there are accents in there, but I can't remember where they go).)