Goodbye, July 4th; Hello Darwin Day!

4 Jan
solstice

by liberalmind1012

The Human Resources Director of my organization recently released our 2009 Holiday Schedule. I should mention that we have a VERY generous benefits package, including ample vacation time and ten paid holidays during the year.  The ten paid holidays include most of the usual suspects, though we have managed to avoid holidays that honor mass deaths and colonialism (I’m looking at you, Columbus Day). We also get one optional day that we can use to celebrate any holiday that has “significant religious or national importance” to us.

Though I do appreciate the days off, I find the list a little uninspiring. It’s largely because I’m not moved by very many religious or national holidays. So, I’m revising the list and coming up with my own version that roughly corresponds to the organizational calendar, 11 events in all, including the one optional holiday. You won’t find any nationalistic or religious holidays on my list. Instead, I’ll take time out this year to celebrate science, reason, and issues of global concern. This list isn’t meant to be annoyingly politically correct (though I realize it may come across as such), rather it’s my attempt to create meaningful experiences in 2009.

  • On January 19th, I’ll join my co-workers in observing Martin Luther King Day. This is a worthy one, but remember, it’s a day on, not a day off. What better way to kickstart the new year than with a day of service.
  • In February, I’ll participate in the global celebration of science and humanity known as Darwin Day, honoring the scientist who clued us in to natural selection.
  • Hat tip to all my girls and especially to my mom in March. I’ll do an International Women’s Day/Mother’s Day combo. IWD is an annual celebration of the social, economic, and political achievements made by women. You know what Mother’s Day is (and it’s celebrated in March or April, not May, in England where I was born).
  • Hold the mail. Close the banks. The earth cannot wait. Earth Day should be every day, of course, but I’ll try to use this day to do something out of the ordinary. Not sure yet whether I’ll celebrate at the March equinox or on April 22, but either way, this day will be about more than just recycling.
  • I’m skipping the United States’ Independence Day, but I will celebrate my own independence day of sorts. For the past 10 years I’ve made myself a cake on April 2, to commemorate the day I decided to leave school and “figure things out.” I eventually went back to school, and I still haven’t figured things out, but it was a brave, cake-worthy decision that I’d like to remember.
  • Honestly, I find Memorial Day to be a tough one. While I’d like to honor those who have died for a cause they believed in, this year I’ll opt to celebrate the National Day of Reason (held annually in the United States on the first Thursday in May) instead. The National Day of Reason was initiated as a secular response to the federally-sponsored National Day of Prayer. Fortunately, I think reason is a better antidote to war than prayer anyway.
  • In June I’ll take a day to revel in the human understanding of the cosmos by celebrating the summer solstice! Don’t forget: the tilt of the earth’s axis + the fact that the earth orbits our sun once every ~365 solar days = seasons!
  • I’ll keep the gratitude and the harvest, but lose the mythology (was it really a friendly dinner?) and perhaps the turkey (do we really have to glorify their ritualized slaughter?) on Thanksgiving. That’s two days for gratitude, mind you (out of 365).
  • In December I’ll be celebrating International Human Rights Day and the Winter Solstice instead of you-know-what.

I’ll put up some ideas for celebrating each of these events as they approach.

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