PoliTuesday – A Better Federal Holiday Calendar

FederalCalendar-CurrentThe current United States Federal calendar is a hodge-podge of circumstantial decisions with no strategic plan organizing the whole. What we end up with is a poorly organized mess, with a holiday-heavy late year and two depressing “holiday holes” in spring and late summer. One half of the year contains 80 percent of the Federal holidays!

There’s no reason we should accept this clumsy system.

I propose a more distributed system of Federal holidays, about one every month. We could keep the Christmas holiday as a thirteenth holiday, primarily because it would be politically impossible to eliminate, but also because thirteen holidays could be sold as symbolic of the thirteen original colonies.

Some might gripe that expanding the current ten-holiday system to a thirteen-holiday system would be a huge hit to the Federal budget, since we’d have to pay employees of the world’s largest employer for these extra three days off.

As a Federal employee, I can assure tax payers that we organize our work around Federal holidays. A week before, in preparation for the mass evacuation, productivity goes into high gear so that people can leave their functions in order while they’re on vacation. And, the weeks following are furiously busy catch-up times. Adding to these bursts of activity might ironically boost Federal productivity.

Rational accounting is more than just crunching raw numbers. You have to figure in human behavior. Having off days every month might keep Federal employees on their toes during the Spring and Summer, when activity (in my admittedly anecdotal experience) tends to lag.

THE LEITH FEDERAL CALENDAR

FederalCalendar-LeithSeasonal Holidays. I’ve been pushing for a Winterfest holiday for a long time. I plan to post individual posts on each season, not only to revisit my Winterfest push but to better sell the other seasonal holidays. A set of four generic seasonal festivals could be used by various cultural factions for their own ends while bringing us all together as a nation.

WINTERFEST would counter the insidious winter blahs. I think the NFL should synchronize the Super Bowl Sunday with this holiday, with other Winterfest events dominating the preceding Friday and Saturday.

SPRINGFEST could help fill the massive holiday hole that currently exists between President’s Day (officially, Washington’s Birthday) and Memorial Day. The whole country celebrating the end of blizzard fears and the rise of warmth could be a huge draw.

SUMMERFEST would fill the holiday hole between Independence Day and Labor Day. People hardly need an excuse to celebrate Summer, but why not give them a day on which to focus this celebration?

AUTUMNFEST would essentially synch with the Halloween celebration, and would replace Veterans Day. Since that probably sent a political shiver through my readers, I’ll address that next.

Warfighters Day. There is a lot of confusion among American citizens about the differing purposes of Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day, the last of which isn’t even an official Federal holiday. The first celebrates all who have served, the next those who died in war, and the third those currently serving. A better option would be to combine these three days into a single Warfighters Day on the current Memorial Day.

I’m certain that a lot of veterans would find getting rid of Veterans Day insulting, but as a veteran myself I don’t see a problem. Our current Veterans Day is a mutation of Armistice Day, which was meant specifically to celebrate the end of World War I. Only later was it extended to veterans of other wars. And Memorial Day is a mutation of Decoration Day, which honored Union war dead after the Civil War. Now, it honors those fallen in all wars.

So, the existing holidays already bring together groups they weren’t originally intended to. Unifying all of America’s warfighters under a single holiday makes good historical and military sense. We could keep Armed Forces Day and Armistice Day as unofficial holidays, as well of the various Service birthdays, while bringing all veterans together under a new Warfighters Day in May.

Martyr’s Day. I’ve always felt it odd to celebrate the birthday the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After all, it was for later events in his life that we remember him. I considered moving his celebration to the date of his remarkable “I Have A Dream Speech” on 28 August, but that would place it too close to Labor Day.

I decided on the date of Dr. King’s assassination on 04 April. Commemorating his ultimate sacrifice would allow us to recognize others alongside him who have lost their lives in the struggle for human rights, like Harvey Milk and Medger Evers.

Meeting Day. Recently and understandably, the celebration of Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas has become politically problematic. An alternative holiday, Indigenous People’s Day, has been celebrated for years by dissidents.

I feel this same tension in Thanksgiving. And, I feel that the same open-minded attitude solves both problems. Sure, when different peoples meet the result can be tragic. But, there are also moments of cooperation and community.

So, to embrace all sides of the meeting of cultures, we should replace Columbus Day with Meeting Day. We can commemorate the tragedies and celebrate the multicultural community at the same time.

People’s Day. I’m almost done, but there still exists a holiday hole at the beginning of March. However, the history of the United States has a significant date on the first of that month. Not only were the Articles of Confederation signed on that day in 1781, the first census was authorized on that day in 1790, the Republic of Texas was brought into the United States on that day in 1845, and the country’s first (the world’s first!) national park—Yellowstone—was established in 1872.

So, I propose the first of March as People’s Day.

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