Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the holidays of spring and summer

Monday was Victoria Day, in which we celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday. Queen Victoria was born May 24, 1819. However, we conveniently celebrate her birthday on the Monday before her birthday (or on her birthday proper whenever the 24th happens to be a Monday) so that we may have a long weekend and avoid a disruption mid-week.

The holiday before Queen Victoria's birthday is also an odd date holiday, but for another reason. Easter is a Christian Church holiday that is cause for a day or two off work or school for most Canadians. Easter is timed to the moon. It's the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox, so it can happen in March or April, early or late, depending on the moon. According to the internet, it is called a "moveable feast" although we can't move it really, only the moon can move it. When I was little, I thought a moveable feast was a picnic. So much for what I knew. When I was little, Spring Break from school was always attached to Easter, so depending on the moon, the teachers had to wait a short time or a long time after Christmas to have a break from us kids. Nowadays, Spring Break is always the second or third (or both) week(s) in March and Easter happens when it happens.

This got me to thinking about how some holidays are moveable and how some are stuck wherever they fall.

Moveable: Easter, Victoria Day, BC Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving (all are set for various dates each year, depending on the moon, in Easter's case, and on Mondays in the case of all of the other days).

Stuck on their Dates: New Year's Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day (these fall on the same numerical date every year).

I wonder why Queen Victoria's birthday is moved around for our convenience, but Jesus's birthday is fixed. I know that Jesus is more important in the grand scheme of things (at least to us Christians) than Queen Victoria is. But still, Jesus's birthday is an approximation, not an actual calendar date that we know from history, and Queen Vic's at least we know for sure it was that day.

Easter is tied to Passover which is ancient, and so we respect and connect it to the moon phases, thus the moveability of this feast day. The other non-religious holidays are really about celebration rather than about a certain sacred day of the year, so moveability makes sense (for most of them, at least). Remembrance Day is justifiably stuck at the 11th day of the 11th month and we do stop everything at the 11th hour. That is cool. Come to think of it, wouldn't it be cool if we fine tuned a couple more of our holidays to a particular hour - like the actual time of day Queen Victoria was born, we could all let out a big whoop and say "IT'S A GIRL!" What? you don't actually celebrate Queen Victoria's birth on Victoria Day? Well, neither do I, really.

BC Day and Canada Day are the other secular (moveable) holidays on which we actually celebrate the reason the holiday has been called. I think this has a lot to do with government making it so. Lots of effort and money goes in to celebrating our provincial and national days. Also, it's something just about everyone in the country and the province can celebrate equally. "I am here. I am glad I am here." That is a good thing to be able to celebrate. What if you lived in a miserable horrible place where you couldn't wait to escape to freedom and safety in another country? What kind of national holiday would you have? Grim, to say the least. We don't know how good we have it, barbeques, fireworks and street festivals being the least of our blessings.

A side note: BC Day is moveable. Canada Day is stuck. Ponder that.

The whole thinking about holidays thing popped into my mind last night because I brought work home with me. I sat on the couch and watched the second half of the hockey game (HOLY COW! HOCKEY SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN HOLIDAY!) and programmed my Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 classes for work. I had to be aware of moveable and stuck holidays so I could plan around them. Fiona looked up Easter 2012 for me. It's in April, so I don't have to plan around it until I'm working on my Spring and Summer 2012 programs, which are probably due next week, deadlines being moveable.

I am thinking ahead now to the mostly happily moveable non-religious holidays of summer, which are about relaxation, celebration of the place we love, celebration of going back to work at the end of the summer, celebration of people, the funny, awkward, random blessings that we are.

question: what is your favourite holiday? does it move?

mompoet - happy holidays!

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