Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Legal Holidays

I have a hang-up. I think Memorial Day is on May 30 regardless of when the government decides to skip the mail delivery on some late-May Monday. I think Lincoln's birthday is February 12 and Washington's is February 22, regardless of this new-fangled "Presidents' Day" when the banks and schools are closed. So I smiled broadly at the interchange at school on Monday morning.

Every day after chapel, before the students break off into their classes, the headmistress covers several all-school items. First is the date. "Today is Monday, October the ..... ???" And one of the little kids tries to answer. Yesterday the response was "the 11th!" And the headmistress says, "No, but you're close" whereupon several quizzical looks were tossed her way by the adults. Pastor checks the date on his watch and says, "Yes, it is too the 11th."


Well, she goes on to talk about Columbus Day and the discovery of the Americas. Then it was Pastor's turn to be momentarily confused: "But it's not Columbus Day. Columbus Day is the 12th!"

Ah ha! Another person who thinks that holidays belong on their actual dates! So all these middle-aged folks are confused by the government's declaration of legal holidays, ranting about Armistice Day being on November 11, and Memorial Day being on May 30, and that it's not really Columbus Day on the 11th whether or not the banks are closed. We know the truth about the dates.

And these kids ... Their whole life's experience has been Monday holidays, with no understanding that these days weren't plucked out of nowhere but were anniversaries of real events that really happened to real people in history.


  1. I'm 46 years old, but I could have no more told you the actual dates of Columbus Day and Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays than those kids. Does that mean I'm not as old as I think I am? :-)

    And honestly, I thought Memorial Day was May 31. I thought it was the same day as my husband's birthday.

    I don't know if I just haven't been paying attention or if I'm a case in point of what American public education has wrought.

    On the other hand, my kids are homeschooled and I don't think they could tell you any of those dates either.

  2. I just quizzed my husband, one year older than I, and he got the birthdays and Memorial Day. He was a couple of days off on Columbus Day. I have no idea what any of this proves.

  3. Ah sure be persnickety about dates and truth and all that, we just want our three day weekend.


  4. My birthday is the 11th and I don't remember Columbus day even being recognized as a day to close banks etc when I was a kid. My son Matthew's birthday is today so he SHOULD know. I would have responded yesterday that it was Eleanor Roosevelt's bday. That is all I know. It was also usually fall break in college.

  5. I grew up in Illinois. Columbus Day and Lincoln's birthday were official holidays, and school was canceled. I wonder if that's why the dates made an impression on me. Pastor grew up in Illinois too; I don't know where the headmaster grew up. Cheryl and Bikermom grew up in other states. So now I'm wondering if today's Illinois kids will grow up wondering why the whole world doesn't know when Pulaski Day is (or is that tossed to the nearest Monday too?).

  6. Here in South Dakota we don't observe Columbus Day, transferred or otherwise. It's Native American Day. Can't let Chris have all the glory, dontchaknow!

  7. Haha--I remember when I first heard of Pulaski Day after we moved to Illinois. I thought, "WHat in the world?" It sounded like we were honoring someone named "Cashmere."