A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

A Floating Holiday and Other Moribund American Observances

I am taking today off from work as a “floating holiday”.  My reasoning for taking today is a practical one: the east coast of the United States is having its second nor’easter within a week, with the predicted snow accumulation in my part of the state to be 8-10 inches.  This is not conducive to driving to work and returning home later in the day when roads are slippery, trees and power lines are falling, and the usually defensive driver throws caution to the blizzard winds.

All in all, a nice day to stay home, hunker down with some hot cocoa, and pray that the power doesn’t go down.  I had a few days notice about this week’s blizzard and I promptly applied for it as one of my two floating holidays for the year.

The term “floating holiday” got me thinking.   

I’ve always looked upon the concept as a day (or two) offered by employers during the calendar year because they don’t have the cojones to close up shop for all of the other Tom, Dick, and Harry holidays that have been thought up, celebrated, and fallen out of favor in this country.  The employee can take the holiday any time they want as long as they request it in advance.

And what of those other holidays?  The federal government currently designates 10 federal holidays when “official” government workers are permitted to take the day off and not do anything.   I say “official” because the stereotype persists that most employees of the vast US bureaucracy don’t do much beyond biding their time until retirement when they are at work.  It’s an unfair stereotype, but it does exist.

Those federal holidays are: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.   State and local governments can pick and choose which federal holidays they observe.  It’s usually a given that banks, schools, liquor stores, and the US Post Office will also close on these days.   Employers can also pick and choose which holidays to observe.

My official paid holidays are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.  That’s it! 

I used to work in a union shop where the other federal holidays were negotiated into our contract. Those days are long gone for me and are disappearing fast for the rest of the country.

When I was growing up we had separate holidays to celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln.  At some point they got combined and renamed President’s Day, although the actual day set aside for observance is closer to Washington’s birthday then Lincoln’s.  No matter, since January gained a federal holiday with the addition of Martin Luther King Day.  No one seemed to mind slighting Lincoln.

This still leaves our nation’s history littered with the memory of other days which may still be celebrated at the state and local level, but have for all intents and purposes, fallen out of favor or forgotten.  Such days as:

  • Arbor Day – probably still celebrated in many states with the intention to plant a tree.  No precise date has been set on the calendar in more recent years, although it may have been folded into in what is now known as Earth Day, which raises awareness about climate change and pollution issues.

  • May Day – traditionally May 1 when schools and institutions would stage pageants in celebration of the spring season.  My guess is that this fell out of favor when various communist dictatorships throughout the globe would use this day to display their ideological pride (read military might).  Aw, a victim of the latter 20th century Cold War, comrade!

Well intentioned holidays meant to celebrate various ethnic heritages but have devolved into excuses for gluttony and public drunkenness:

  • St. Patrick’s Day; Cinco de Mayo; and Columbus Day.  I don’t pay much attention to ethnic holidays.  My own ancestors, the Germans, ruined it for me.  Many may well remember the fiasco that happened the last time Germany celebrated its ethnic pride.  Historians have named it World War Two.  ‘Nuff said.

Well intentioned holidays to celebrate national figure birthdays and occasions of national historical importance which has devolved into an excuse for the American auto industry to sell more cars: (subject to overlap with other holiday categories)

  • President’s Day; Memorial Day; Fourth of July; Labor Day; Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day; etc.

Well intentioned religious holidays which have become excuses for feasting and gluttony:

  • Easter and Christmas Day. These preferences show a definite bias towards Christianity.  And the evangelicals have the nerve to cry discrimination towards their beliefs because there was a trend towards extending civil rights to the LGBQT community in recent years?  They still get their major religious observances recognized by the federal government while other cultures are left to fend for themselves!  What nerve! Harrumph!

Well intentioned holiday set aside for everyone to express gratitude for the harvest and everything else in the materialistic culture which has devolved into a day of gluttony and sports watching: Thanksgiving.

Well intentioned non-holiday set aside for consumption of junk food, sports watching, consumption of more junk food and nothing else:  Super Bowl or Big Game Sunday.

I could go on, but I think this will suffice for now.  Besides, the snow outside is getting thicker and I am behind on my hunkering down with hot cocoa.

(Thank you for reading and enjoy the day, everyone, where ever you are! Oh, and plant a tree this spring!)


Blogger Dave R said...

Working in retail, I get 6 paid holidays... however, on only two of those will the store be closed, Thanksgiving and Christmas. No snow here, just drizzle and muddy dogs.

March 7, 2018 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Raybeard said...

Another National Holiday when a certain resignation/impeachment happens? It's as solid a reason as any to let one's hair down and go WILD!

I'm aware of your nasty turn of weather after the false promise of Spring, just as we experienced a week and more ago. Hope for your sake it returns to the season one expects.

March 8, 2018 at 2:43 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I'm lucky to get holidays off, and other days as well, and the ability to work from home time to time. It makes the job, which i do love, more tolerable.

March 8, 2018 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

I used to work in retail right out of college. I recall that they allowed us to schedule a day off for our birthday. Does retail still offer that, Dave?

Thank you Raybeard. My guess is that celebration is at least a year away.

Thank you Bob. I am grateful for whatever time off I can get.

March 10, 2018 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

I like this notion.
I think there should be a rolling holiday for Rolling down grass hills.

March 11, 2018 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m self employed so if I don’t work I don’t get paid. That said there are public holidays no one works. The next one here is Easter when everyone goes nuts shopping eating and clogging up the motorways. I sound like a right misery guts. Those holidays, that’s when I hunker with cocoa!

March 16, 2018 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you for your suggestion, Spo. We will propose the idea to Congress and if they approve it we'll get a new Congress. What the hell! We need a new Congress anyway!

Thank you, JP. Easter is also our next holiday, but it falls on a Sunday. So what, right? Enjoy your cocoa!

March 18, 2018 at 8:15 PM  

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