Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 3.17

Today, friends, TODAY is St. Patrick’s Day.   I’m an first-generation Irish-American girl, so I like Paddy’s Day.  I no longer eat green bagels or drink green beer to celebrate, but I do find that I endeavor to wear green (or at least not all black like I do every other day), and sometimes even make “traditional” foods for dinner. 

I have no good reason to be as fond of this day as I am, but there you go.  I think of all my Irish family, most of whom I rarely see, some of whom I’ve never met at all, and thinking of us as a family makes me happy.  Raising a glass to them and to you, dear readers, I ask this:

Discounting the big ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Arbor Day…)  what’s your favorite second class holiday?

a.real.girl

A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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62 Comments

  1. It’s probably more of a third-class holiday, but I’ll go with Groundhog Day for two reasons.

    First, we need more holidays involving furry, quadrupedal weather-critters. And second: it happens to be my birthday!

  2. My mom grew up in Hawaii, and is half Chinese. I’m a fairly big fan of Chinese New Year. Really, we just treat it as an excuse to stuff our craws with all kinds of delicious dishes that are normally too time consuming to bother making. This year, we happened to be *in* Hawaii for the occasion, and celebrated with family at one of the excellent local restaurants. Bliss.

  3. I like St. Patrick’s and April Fools in principle, but never do anything worthy of the day. But Independence Day’s fun. Every 4th of July, I get to blow shit up, watch lots of shiny, sparkly, noisy things, and usually drink a little more than I should to top it all off (I try and keep apart the drinking and blowing things up).

    @Eliza: I, too, eagerly anticipate all three of those cheap candy days, and celebrate them every year. Though why candy is always cheap the day after Oregon became a state, and what those little candy hearts have to do with it, I’ll never know.

  4. Gotta go with the 4th of July. Only because its in the summer and involves lots of family, food and drink at the lake and things that go BOOM!

    April 1st is my wife’s birthday so I have to try hard not to combine birthday things with traditional April first high jinx. Sometimes I don’t try hard enough.

  5. Hmm… I like the seasonal holidays. (Solstices and equinoxes), but don’t do much to celebrate them. Got married on the winter solstice a couple months ago, so that one’s doubly awesome.

    Other than that, I like Halloween and any holiday that’s worthy of getting out of school. (I’m a teacher.)

  6. Halloween and St Paddy’s Day for the general fun, though I don’t drink. This year I marched in the parade with the 69th New York Infantry re-enactors, The Irish Brigade.

    The seasonal holidays are special for a different reason: My grandmother was born on the summer soltice, my mother on the winter solstice. (I missed the spring equinox by two weeks).

  7. I like Victoria Day. There’s a parade and a day off and while it’s officially the Queen’s birthday you don’t have to buy anybody anything.
    I used to be a big fan of Canada Day…and then I spent July 1 in Ottawa. It felt like half the country was trying to fit onto the Parliament grounds, not to mention the unmitigated hell the public transit system turned into when it was over. I now watch the fireworks on TV.

  8. I really LOVE FESTIVUS. As head of the household, I get the honor of putting up the Festivus pole,then we have Festivus dinner.After copious amounts of alcohol, starts the “Airing of grievances” After this , my wife and six year old daughter leave the table in tears.That leaves my nine year old son for the”Feats of strenght”. The loser has to leave the dinner table.

    I eat alone every year.

  9. Monkey Tuesday

    Pi Day

    Square Root Day

    Masturbation Day

    Orgasm Day

    The Feast of St. Crispin (has a really cool speech)

    Abraham Lincoln’s birthday

    Cocaine and whores Fridays

    Boxing day

    wrestling day

    kung fu fighting day

    Zaphod Beeblbrox Memorial three day weekend

    three way weekend

    Pearl Harbor Day (its the day I got custody of my kids from my ex wife)

    Falling down drunk day (April 15 and you have to be a tax accountant, which I am)

    Stand in awe of my awesome member day (everday)

    Land Mine Awareness day

    Strawberry shortcake day

    Care bears day

    Hot chicks make me horny day (also everyday)

    Smart chicks make me really horny day (all days)

  10. @Amanda: So that explains why it’s on a monday, or is patriot day the 20th? I’ll be in attendance of the Boston Marathon as my sister is running it, and on a whim I registered for the 5k that takes place the day before.
    @marilove: , @OneHandClapping: I don’t think that the 4th of July or labor day count as second rate holidays as they are federally recognized and most people get those days off, which means they are technically first rate holidays.

  11. I’m one of those weirdos who gets up at dawn on May Day to morris dance the sun up. We tell the mundanes that it’s ancient pagan fertility stuff, but the real reason for morris dancing is to busk for beer money.

  12. I think I’ll have to go with Easter. I think Norwegian easter (PÃ¥ske) qualifies as second class holiday, at least for the vast majority of us who don’t give a shit about the religious part. We get a five day weekend by law (thur – mon), most get a five and a half day weekend by law and many make it a week and a day by throwing in a couple of vacation days. (Unless you’re a teacher, then you have a week and a day anyway.)

    Then we spend it eating candy, often in bunny or egg shape, eating oranges, reading crime fiction and watching british crime fiction series on TV. Stereotypically we do this in our mountain cabins after daily cross-country skiing, but statistics show the majority actually stay at home.

    We may also eat and decorate more eggs, boiled with onion peels, and have lamb on Sunday, because it’s traditional and eggs and lamb are both excellent foodstuffs, and because it’s traditional, and not because it symbolises cannibalism or anything.

    … I suppose maybe it’s not a second class holiday after all, but that’s the case for most our holidays. I think they’re all all-or-nothing, except for a couple of American imports.

  13. In Denmark I’m quite keen on Liberation Day. Ok, it’s not a laugh a minute but at least we can have the annual “do we put the candle in the window on the evening _of_ or the evening _before_” argument.

    From my Jewish childhood I have a soft spot for Tu B’Shevat, because a New Year for Trees is nicely off-the-wall.

  14. @Some Canadian Skeptic:
    I’m sorry, I really really REALLY hate St. Patrick’s day.

    I don’t think you could really call St.Pat’s racist, since the Irish aren’t exactly a different race (for as far as you could even speak of “race” within the human race), but a nationality.
    Neither are the Jewish a race OR a nationality, but a religion.

    Granted, all are stereotypes, but as long as people are making fun of the stereotype and not the actual members of the group, I have no problem with it.

    In fact, I propose that on July 14th, we all wear striped shirts and berets, eat baguettes with Brie or Camembert, then washing it all down with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

  15. I like the subtle and curious holidays like Talk Like A Pirate Day or National Hi-Five Day or That’s What She Said Day. I’m also a fan of any day involving food, National Chocolate Day, National Potato Day, National Pound Cake Day…
    The 4th of July is always full of fun, food, friends and fireworks, so that gets my vote, too. Like I said, anything involving food. That’s why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the big’uns.
    I have a hard time enjoying any of the religiously based holidays or anything named after a saint, because I read to damn much to forget what I know about Catholicism and St. Patrick and Easter, etc.

  16. Memorial Day. It’s right around my birthday so I can usually manage a four day weekend in stead of just a three day. The weather is generally pleasant and there is almost always a BBQ some where I can go to. Ahhh. I wish it were Memorial Day tomorrow.

  17. @exarch:
    “Neither are the Jewish a race OR a nationality, but a religion.”
    Judaism is a religion, Jewish is nationality, culture, and arguably a race as well. Israel is a Jewish State. I might be wrong but aren’t all Jews offered an open invitation to become Israeli citizens?

    That aside, Jew is a culture with its own language (Hebrew), that extends way beyond religion. Have you never heard someone describe themselves as a Secular Jew, Atheist Jew, non-practicing Jew. They may no longer practice Judaism but they are still “Jews”.

    As far as race. Unlike all the other major religions, Judaism didn’t spread across races. While the Jews did spread out across Europe and eventually America, it was pretty insular and didn’t do, really any to speak of, conversions. Rather passing the religion to offspring and staying in their own communities. Because of this the genetics and phenotypes between Jews are similar enough to each other and different enough from other groups that some would argue they are their own race. However, that would depend on your definition of race, which could spiral into a whole other heated discussion.

  18. @Some Canadian Skeptic:
    I hear what you’re saying as to why you think St. Patty’s day is a racist holiday. I too find it odd that people celebrate their “Irish Heritage” by drinking way too much. However I think it’s funnier than leaves me angry. Partially I think your looking way to much into this. Drunken Irish is a harmless stereotype if such a thing can exist. It’s not as though a father has a daughter bring home a ginger and then he’ll worry that she will turn Catholic, turn out 8 kids, and succumb to spousal abuse. An employer doesn’t think, “Irish, better not hire him, he’s probably an alcoholic.”

    To reiterate, prejudges against the Irish is dead leaving the stereotypes harmless quirky fun, as compared to other races who still face racism and prejudges based upon the stereotypes held against them. So lighten up and have a beer, or 8 as I assume you’re Irish.

  19. “I don’t think you could really call St.Pat’s racist, since the Irish aren’t exactly a different race (for as far as you could even speak of “race” within the human race), but a nationality.”
    In fairness, the Irish have historically suffered institutional discrimination that could be considered comparable to racism. The term may not be exactly the right one, but I don’t know if there actually is one that applies (somehow “nationalism” doesn’t sound quite right).
    As to whether or not St. Patrick’s Day perpetuates negative stereotypes – well, first up there’s the problem with the fact that the Irish came up with it themselves. I know lots of people who at least acknowledge Chinese New Year who haven’t got a drop of Asian blood in them, because it’s fun. The only reason we don’t treat, say, St. Andrew’s Day the same way is because nobody looked at the Scottish immigrants and said, “Hey, a day where everybody is dourly Presbyterian, I want in on that.” (Of course, Burns’ Night is fairly popular among people who like scotch and haggis.) The unfortunate associations with St. Pat’s came when people stopped thinking of themselves as Irish but still enjoyed the traditions of the day – which, yes, include alcohol, but the only holiday that doesn’t traditionally involve alcohol seems to be Easter.

  20. @skepticalhippie: Yes. All one has to do is serve (at least) 6mo in the Israeli army and your pretty much in. Unless your Ultraorthodox of course.

    @Amanda: well that explains a bit.

    @OneHandClapping: COTW

    @Indigo: Actually, I’m pretty sure the reason why St Andrew’s day is nit actively celebrated the way St Pat’s day is has more to do with the fact that there wasn’t a lot of Scottish immigrants coming over nor the large animosity towards them that there was directed at the Irish. The Irish immigrants who came over at the turn of the last century were viewed as less than human and were heavily discriminated against, even being viewed by some as being less human than black people were viewed. This can lead a group such as the Irish to join up in solidarity and even create holidays to celebrate their heritage, as is most likely the reason.

  21. @skepticalhippie:
    However, that would depend on your definition of race, which could spiral into a whole other heated discussion.

    Not really. From a biological standpoint, all of humanity is one, single race: the human race.
    I’m not sure if you could use the term “breed” for the various shape- and colour differences between people from different descents (like it’s used for dogs). In fact, unlike dogs I think the different human “breeds” might still not show enough genetic diversity to qualify for that term.

    But one thing’s for sure, if you’re going to class the Jewish people as a “race” you could just as easily start talking about the Germanic, Scandinavian or Roman race. None of them have been completely isolated from the rest of the gene pool in quite the same way as for example native Americans or Aboriginals have, and not nearly long enough to result in anything other than a few minor typical cosmetic traits. Nothing that would stand out in a DNA test except to suggest a certain heritage.

    On the subject of ostracization, I’d say the terms racism and nationalism are perhaps apt descriptions of the behavior. I just don’t think pretending to be Irish and drinking a lot qualifies as hate against a certain group. Rathern, I’d say it qualifies as love for a certain group.

  22. @exarch:

    “Not really”

    Yes really,

    I agree with the biological standpoint that we are the same race. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here is it? Tell a “black” man (or women) who has been a victim of racism that there is no such thing as race and see how far that goes.

    Anyway, I could write pages on the subject but I say we let the topic die with this thread…..for now.

  23. I think part of the problem here is the common use of the word “race” to mean “ethnicity” in English. The word “racism” is rooted in the word “race” and carries along with it the error in thought.

    What we really need is a new, clearer set of terms about our differences and lack of them

  24. But decent terms already exist for these differences.

    Identifying people from a distance is primlarily a visual thing. So the most obvious visual cues are the most likely to be used. In other words:
    -Size (Height and weight)
    -skin colour
    -hair colour

    and if you’re close enough to get a good look:
    -eye colour
    -facial hair
    -facial features (shape of nose, lips, ears)

    Ethnicity is just a shorthand to a default set of features. Asian is a set that by default sets some variables like height and weight, hair and skin colour, and eye-shape. You’d still need more to identify a particular person, but it also eliminates a large portion of your average population, so it’s a useful tool.

    You can still use it without referring to it as “race” though …

    The fact that people mistakenly thought black people were a separate (inferior) race doesn’t mean black people today aren’t still occasionally (or perhaps even frequently) the victim of discrimination. But in my opinion, making people realise they are not, in fact, a different race is one of the most important points to be made there. It is after all the very reason they were initially discriminated. But it becomes so much harder to consider a black person inferior when you can no longer deny the fact they’re no different from yourself except for the colour of their skin. That they are not in fact a separate but equal race, bat are actually the same race.

    I also doubt that referring to St. Patrick’s day as racist is going to remedy this problem of comprehension.

    Anyway, I think correct language use could do a lot to rid the world of this problem. It’s not merely a case of extreme PC-ness.

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