National Holidays™

To me there is difference between a holiday, a Federal holiday and a national holiday. A holiday is a religious observation. A Federal holiday are those days the Feds take off like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Christmas. But a national holiday is not formally recognized by either church or state. These days national holidays seem to be driven by retail marketing. For example

  • Valentines Day – Used to be St. Valentines day when I was a kid. A day to be humiliated at school when you only got Valentines cards from girls you didn’t like and you got a lot less than anyone else. This is a chance to sell cards, flowers and chocolate. Before that, it was the feast day of fairly unknown saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • St. Patrick’s Day – A day to drink green beer and wear green cloths. At least this one got to keep the honorific. Go to a retail outlet on this day and you’ll see shamrocks and a lot of green. A chance to sell beer and corned beef and cabbage. No mention of the man who was kidnapped and made a slave in Ireland only to escape and return years later to bring Christianity to the island.
  • Cinco De Mayo – This is a recently invented/imported American national holiday. Started out as a commemoration of the 1860s resistance of Mexico to paying taxes to France. Practically ignored in Mexico but we had to market to Hispanics some how so America started celebrating it. An opportunity to market Mexican beer and food.
  • Christmas – The daddy of them all. This national holiday drives the American economy in a many ways. Originally a very religious holiday, celebrating the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, as a national holiday it features Santa Claus or Chris Cringle, Frosty the Snowman and Johnny Mathis. The number of secular “Christmas Songs” is rising but we still get to hear Christmas carols between “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “Santa Baby”.

But, I would have to say that the most American of the national holidays would have to be Super Bowl Sunday! Why would I say that? Because it is the only national holiday whose name is trademarked. If you go to a grocery store in the week or two before the big game, odds are that you’ll find a ton of food with generic football players on the signage and talk about “The Big Game” but you won’t see “Super Bowl” too often. To use that name in your marketing, you have to pay the NFL. But “The Big Game” drives a LOT of beer, chip and guacamole sales at retail outlets even if you can’t mention the name of the game or use images of the teams playing in it.

Don’t think it is a national holiday? When I was driving home from a Super Bowl party at a friend’s last night I passed a high school. The sign out front said that Monday morning the buses would be run an hour and a half late. Why? Because of the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Also, commercial airtime goes for $1m/minute. Major acts do the halftime show. It is a big deal. And it is all trademarked. Amazing. I think the Superb Owl (an attempt to get around the trademarked name) is clearly a national holiday and I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t become a federal holiday too. The question is whether the Super Bowl has, on its own, grown into a religious holiday or not? Hummm

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