The Report Card: Holiday ins and outs


By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 28, 2014

Holidays are significant. We look forward to them for various reasons. Perhaps they bring family and friends together, perhaps they ignite a sense of tradition, or maybe we just enjoy dressing up and getting drunk. Whatever your reasons are for celebrating a holiday, remember that beneath the rambunctious fun, there is a greater purpose than merely closing shop and getting trashed.

Pass: Unofficial holidays

Unofficial holidays are quickly becoming a trend in North American culture. There is a novelty to it unlike Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Thanksgiving. Unofficial holidays break the monotony of the year and give us something unique to look forward to. With the help of technology and social networks, holiday implementers can come up with a reason to celebrate and execute it. With little to no effort, they can sent out invitations, spread the news, and host a holiday that hasn’t existed before.

January 21 is National Hug Day, January 25 is Opposite Day, March 14 is Pi Day, April 20 is Cannabis Day, September 5 is International Bacon Day, and September 19 is International Talk like a Pirate Day. There are many more and I’m not exactly sure what they all entail, but we have the opportunity to create new traditions and be inventive with how we spend our time.

So often days, weeks, months, and even years blend together into a blurry life, but with unofficial holidays making eventful marks and breaking us out of our daily routines, we can create new memories—ones that have us covered in make-up for the annual Zombie Walk or taking our dog to work on June 20 for Take Your Dog to Work Day. Now, those are memories, unlike getting wasted at a random bar.

Fail: Drinking holidays

It’s a bit of a shame seeing some respectable holidays turn into an excuse to get drunk. St. Patrick’s Day, a day to celebrate the independence of the Irish people, is now a day where bars serve green beer. Cinco de Mayo, a day that commemorates the freedom and democracy after the American Civil War is just another alcohol-filled fiesta. Finally there is my old favourite, Halloween: it used to be a chance to dress up and get candy, but now it’s just an opportunity for bars and clubs to jack up their cover charges or to make it impossible to get in because the lineup wraps around the block, and Lord knows I’m not waiting in the cold dressed in my Miley Cyrus/wrecking ball costume.

It has become customary to stock up on booze for New Year’s Eve and other statutory holidays because the provincial liquor stores will be closed the next day and getting wasted is, well, important and expected. So, what does it really say about our society that the days we consider significant are also the days that we make regrettable choices?

I think having fun is important, but anticipating a day just to binge drink doesn’t foster a healthy life. Let’s not forget what holidays are really about. It’s rest, not indulgence.

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