Saturday, May 05, 2012

a field guide to north american holidays

today is cinco de mayo. it is not a holiday i celebrate, but just for the occasion i have whipped up a little field guide to holidays as celebrated by americans, or at least the portion of north americans who have the stones to call themselves that even though they're just 1/3 of north america's large countries.

so without further ado: a field guide to north american (US) holidays.

  • january 1 - new year's day:  nurse a hangover. watch football. begin to break resolutions made yesterday.
  • third monday of january -  martin luther king jr. day: either make lukewarm comments about the niceness of getting along or make barbed comments about race mixing. take your pick.
  • february 14 -  valentine's day: fall prey to perpetually spiraling cycle of unrealistic expectations, resultant doubts and disappointments. children engineer cruel popularity theater. men buy expensive presents that are never good enough. women pout. advertisers attempt to make men feel inadequate if they do not buy enough cars/diamonds/chocolate/flowers.
  • third monday of february - presidents' day: there used to be holidays for washington and lincoln, one each, but it was combined to make room for MLK day and not everyone is so thrilled about washington and lincoln these days anyway but what you should really do to celebrate is buy new cars and appliances.
  • march 17 - st. patrick's day: who is st. patrick? some irish guy? drink huge amounts of green beer and eat any food that can be dyed green. advanced players eat corned beef and cabbage and maybe soda bread. get crashingly drunk. make tasteless jokes. 
  • mid-late april (movable) - easter: buy expensive candies and toys for children. dye eggs. eat ham.
  • may 5 - cinco de mayo: drink tequila. make sure it's the kind with the worm. order many cervezas. eat tacos. have no idea why.
  • second sunday of may - mother's day: buy your mother greeting cards and flowers. the greeting card industry loves you.
  • last monday of may- memorial day: go to barbecues. drink a lot of beer.
  • june 14 -  flag day: what? there's a holiday called flag day?
  • third sunday of june - father's day: buy your dad useless crap he doesn't want. barbecue. drink beer. the greeting card industry really loves you.
  • july 4 - independence day: does anyone actually call it that anymore? barbecue. drink a lot of beer and wine coolers. engage in as many different violations of the us flag code as you possibly can. watch fireworks. make slurred speeches about the greatness of america. do not for a second consider the constitution or try to understand it.
  • august 15 - christmas shopping season opens.
  • first monday in september - labor day: drink beer. barbecue. complain about unions and poor people.
  • second monday of october- columbus day: schoolchildren still learn about the goodness of white people. everyone else shuffles their feet, clears their throat and does not know what to say.
  • october 31 - halloween: (old-style) children go door-to-door begging for free candy in costumes they have made. adults cheerfully admire the costumes and hand out candy. everybody remembers to say "please" and "thank you". (new style) children go heavily supervised from venue to venue in expensive costumes demanding free stuff to which they are entitled. adolescents sneer at everybody. adults wear sexually suggestive costumes and get drunk. (alternate modern version) commit crimes of arson, vandalism, theft, and assault. call it "fun".
  • november 11 - veterans' day: pay lip service to the idea of veterans. do not do anything to see that they get proper medical care or benefits. wave the flag.
  • fourth thursday in november - thanksgiving: get together with people who annoy you. eat too  much. drink hard liquor. watch football. save up horror stories to remind you why you can't stand all these people the rest of the year. go to big stores and shop fiercely.
  • fourth friday in november - black friday: formerly the day when christmas shopping started in earnest. this day now marks the day when advertising and promotions for shopingshoppingshopping go into a month-long full fever pitch.
  • late november-late december (movable)- hanukkah: what? there are still jews in america? oh. well, then. aren't we being super nice to recognize that their most important holiday comes around now? won't they feel appreciative?
  • december 25 - christmas: the culmination of the five-month long shopping competitions. crashing of exhausting unreasonable expectations of buying enough, decorating enough and happy shiny perfect family times that if only you'd bought enough stuff you would have been a good person. unwrap presents. compare price tags. drink. eat. watch football.
  • december 31 - new year's eve: do you have a date yet? because you are a loser if you don't have a date to go out and drink champagne with at the crucial moment when the calendar whirs around to its arbitrarily set start point yet again. drink heavily.

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