Make your own holidays

I don’t know if I could articulate clearly what a “normal” way of using Facebook is — if only because there is probably more than just one — but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t match up very well with my own uses of the platform. I don’t spend a lot of time on the site sharing details of my life, or holding forth about my political opinions, or posting pictures of my meals. To be sure, at some point, I’ve done all these things in small and irregular doses. But they’ve never been my main “go to” modes for engaging with the site.

For a while, I had fun inventing better-than-the-real-thing place names to use when I “checked in” my location. For several years, my status updates were nothing but lyrics. When Stuart Hall died in 2014, I found myself spontaneously sharing major quotes from his published work every day for almost two months. After Trump was elected in 2016, I shared protest songs/videos on a daily basis, with the full playlist having the overly ambitious moniker, “Soundtrack of the Revolution” (NB: YouTube being what it is, there are more than a few dead links in that playlist now, and (sadly) I have never bothered to try and repair most of those).

All those bits of play eventually ran out of steam (or I did) . . . but I’ve recently been inspired to start a fresh one. After riding out a wave of posts in my feed involving “holidays” that were clearly little more than cheap promotional efforts by various corporate lobbying groups (e.g., “National Hot Dog Day,” which I feel confident was not created by Congress in honor of the vital role that bun-encased sausages played in the writing of the Constitution), I realized that the time was ripe to take things into my own hands. Or, for that matter, to encourage other people to do so.

All the holidays, after all, are artificial in some manner, shape, or form. Even when they’re tied to specific historical events, that’s a contingent phenomenon, rather than an inevitable one. 11 November is Veterans Day in the US because it’s the day that (what came to be known as) World War One officially ended, but the US has been involved in a lot of wars, and hasn’t bothered to make the final day of most of them into a holiday of any sort.

More to the point, a holiday is arguably only really a holiday because enough people (don’t ask me to pin down how many is enough, because I don’t know) agree to celebrate it as such, and they do so long enough (see previous parenthetical note) for it to become a tradition. My favorite example of this is Talk Like a Pirate Day, which Wikipedia describes as “parodic,” but that’s arguably wrong. Once millions of people start celebrating it every year — and have been doing so for nearly two decades now — whatever parodic intentions may have been behind its origins no longer matter. It may not be an official government holiday . . . but then that’s true of lots of other “real” holidays too. Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day, etc.

And so, in that spirit, I am now inventing my own holidays, and posting about them to Facebook, with friendly exhortations for “all those who celebrate” to enjoy the specialness of the day. One a day, every day, for as long as I remain motivated to do so. I’m less than a week in, but I am prepared to keep this train rolling for quite a while. It began on Tuesday with “Look at the Bones!” Day (in honor of Monty Python’s killer rabbit). Wednesday was “Scent of a Good Used Bookstore” Day, because who in their right mind doesn’t love that smell. Yesterday was “Yes, I’d Love Another Cup, Thanks!” Day (for all the coffee drinkers out there). Today marks seven years since we lost Prince, and so I declared it to be Purple Friday. And so on.

Some of these, as you might have guessed already, will be quite silly. Some (like today) will be more serious. But that sort of emotional range can be found across all of our “real” holidays too. I have no expectations that any of these will take off in the way that Talk Like a Pirate Day did, but that’s fine. And if you don’t like the holidays I’m creating, that’s fine too. You, too, can make your own holidays. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy . . . and who’s going to stop you? :)

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