Thursday, February 12, 2009

Holidays: Distinctive vs. Generic

I can remember when all holidays were distinctive. None were this generic. Washington's Birthday was celebrated on his birthday which is February 22'nd. Lincoln's Birthday was celebrated on his birthday which is February 12'th. (Today is Lincoln's Birthday!)

Then some folks for some reason or another combined these two birthday celebrations and holidays into one generic event called Presidents' Day.

What is the result? Confusion to the third degree, that's what. First, whose birthday are we celebrating? This new name is so generic that we could be celebrating one of the following or all of the following on Presidents' Day:

Washington's Birthday
Lincoln's Birthday
All living presidents' birthdays
All past presidents' birthdays
The current president's birthdays

Or who know we could be celebrating the president of Mexico's birthday or the president of Russia's birthday.

Second concern. What does this do for school children? Long ago American grammar students knew the names of the two most famous presidents(Washington and Lincoln) and the birthday of each one. I bet most grammar students don't know the actual birthday of either Washington or Lincoln. They just know that teachers always talk about these two presidents along with Martin Luther King in February.

Third concern: three remembrances in the shortest month of the year is bound to result in one of the following folks getting shafted in the recognition department: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King.

Then there is the case of what happened to Armistice Day. Does any young person know about Armistice Day?

Moral of this blogpost: re labeling things is not always a wise idea in the long run. Think before you decide to tweak something. You might just end up with New Coke.


Wanda said...

Oh Joann ~~Very insightful post!

Thanks for joining in.... You letter is "M"

Have fun... and I will link you to my post.

BTW ~ should have some answers to my medical issue in a week or so.


photowannabe said...

A very thought provoking post. I do believe you are right. the holidays just meander along now with no one knowing when to celebrate what. Looking forward to your M meme from Wanda.
Mine is posted now, its the letter R.