Monday, February 18, 2013

Congressman Moves to Dump Presidents' Day

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) has moved to dump Presidents' Day and favors legislation calling for George Washington's birthday to be celebrated on his actual birthday, February 22. Presently, Washington's birthday is celebrated on the third Monday of February and is commonly called Presidents' Day.

See February 15, 2013 article, Legislation to restore Washington's Birthday reintroduced.


Art Deco said...

For 40-odd years, most of the civic holidays prescribed by Congress have been observed as the last leg of a three day bender. One might suggest that they are not truly observed at all. Why not limit them to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July? (We can add New Year's Day given the number of people sick from excess drink).

JMS said...

Ray - great idea!

Here's a bit from today's (Feb 20th) Boston 1775 blog (check it out for the George Washinton birthday postcard)

"Colonial Americans really shared only two holidays in the years leading up to the Revolution. The Puritans of New England made a point of not celebrating Christmas. Thanksgivings varied from one colony to another. Saints’ days, such as the feasts of St. Patrick and St. Andrew, had ethnic implications. But everyone up and down the Atlantic seaboard celebrated the birthdays of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Militia units paraded, cannon fired, flags flew, and gentlemen gathered to drink toasts.

For obvious reasons, those royal holidays went away after independence. But less than three years later, Americans started to bring back the same rituals to celebrate Gen. Washington’s birthday. They even sang new lyrics to “God Save the King” about him.

Furthermore, those celebrations grew after Washington stepped down from his official position. In the mid-1780s he was no longer the commander-in-chief of the army, and he wasn’t yet part of the national government. These tributes were entirely for the man, not the office. No wonder his critics would complain about creeping monarchism."

Art Deco said...

That works, for a while. My old high school social history text has an article on the revelries surrounding elections in late 18th and early 19th century Massachusetts. Seems 'Lection Day was an occasion for riot and drunkenness.

Anthony Esolen has offered that there is a distinction between popular culture and mass entertainment. He suggests a test for telling the difference: popular culture are the songs people sing themselves in their own home. Christmas carols are popular culture. David Bowie is mass entertainment.

Suggest that public holidays be a recognition in labor law of popular culture, not artifacts of pressure groups or passing fancies. Do you recall the Chamber of Commerce official in the movie Sunshine State given the task of planning "Buccaneer Days", "Do people realize how difficult it is to create a tradition??".

Most of our public holidays are the result of passing concerns, deference to pressure groups, and inertia. They should go.

Art Deco said...

Apart from that, "President's Day" has long been a hook to sell appliances, complete with TV ads with two guys in period costumes. It is hopeless.

Brian Tubbs said...

Frank Wolf is actually my congressman. :-) I strongly support what he's trying to do with GW's birthday. It's a shame that he has to share his day.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, the idea was to consolidate Washington and Lincoln's [Feb 12] Birthdays, which were each holidays, no? [That's why it can't be celebrated on the 22nd, b/c that would squeeze Lincoln out.]

Brian Tubbs said...

I admire both, but if it comes down to it, GW should not have to share his day with anyone. If Columbus and King get their own days, I think the father of our country deserves one in his own right also.