Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Winter Holidays Are Not Over

Christmas Day is over. Kwanzaa and Hanukah are still going on. Although this web site defends people's right to celebrate Christmas and talk about it--or celebrate Yule or Hanukah or Kwanzaa or Festivus or whatever--this web site belatedly observes that there is, traditionally, a long sequence of winter holidays. Actually, many traditions that have been associated with Christmas in the United States originally came from other holidays. St. Nicholas' Day, St. Stephen's Day, and Epiphany were originally separate holidays in the Catholic calendar, and traditional celebrations incorporated some traditions from Yule and from all sorts of other sources...so there's no reason not to wish people all the happy holidays they choose to celebrate in December and January.

Here are the highlights; some almanacs and web sites list additional holidays, some of which sound very corporate-sponsored to me, and some of which could be made positively festive.

December (Note that some holidays float around in December. Hanukah, placed on a lunar calendar, is still going on this year; it's over before Christmas in some years. Kwanzaa isn't even a real tradition yet but has already generated two traditions, one beginning on the twenty-sixth of December and one on the closest Monday.):

1. Rosa Parks Day.
2. Fritters Day
3. Gallaudet Day, or, for those who don't live within celebrating range of Gallaudet University, International Disabilities Day
4. St. George's Day; also, National Cookie Day, and Wear Brown Shoes Day
5. World Soil Day. I couldn't have made that up.
6. St. Nicholas' Day; also, Pawnbrokers' Day. (Nicholas of Myra was a bishop not a pawnbroker, but pawnbrokers have traditionally identified with some version of the story where he dropped three balls of gold down the chimney to "redeem" the three children being sold into slavery--some say the reformed slave-dealer became an honest pawnbroker. )
7. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
8. Brownie Day (as in baked goods; Brownie Scouts' day is in February)
9. St. Syrus' Day; St. Juan Diego's Day
10. Human Rights Day
11. St. Damasus' Day (He's the patron saint of archaeologists, possibly because you almost have to be an archaeologist to find out anything about him.) Also, International Mountain Day, when students traditionally blow off classes and go to the mountains.
12. Gingerbread House Day
13. Silly Sweater Day; also, Day of the Horse
14. Monkey Day. Actually several Catholic saints have been associated with this day; the only one I've heard of, except as a name on obscure calendars, is Juan de la Cruz, whose collected works were discussed here:


English translation of his major work, on sale at the time of posting:

15. Bill of Rights Day; also, Cat Herders Day, a recently proposed celebration of stress
16. Posadas (Spanish for "places to spend the night," the part of the Advent actually reenacted in "Christmas" pageants where Mary and Joseph wander around looking for one)
17. St. Lazarus' Day
18. Re-Gifting Day
19. St. Nemesius' Day
20. St. Ignatius' Day
21. Yule or Winter Solstice Day
22. St. Chrysogon's Day
23. Festivus, the Festival for the Rest of Us, celebrated with the Airing of the Grievances
24. First day of Hanukah (this year)
25. Christmas
26. First day of Kwanzaa (this year); St. Stephen's Day; Boxing Day, celebrated by boxing up the gifts you won't use and/or the things you no longer need since you've replaced them with your shiny new prezzies, for redistribution to people younger and/or poorer than you are; National Whiners' Day; Sales & Returns Season begins
27. St. John's Day (the apostle, not to be confused with Juan Diego or Juan de la Cruz)
28. Holy Innocents Day. (According to a long tradition, this is the unluckiest day of the year. For me it's a personal jahrtzeit, bordered with funereal black for three years in a row during my teen years and now "celebrated" with some expression of relief if everyone else I know survives.)
29. St. Thomas a Becket's Day
30. Bacon Day. (For those who don't pig out on dead swine, an alternative celebration involves reading all the interesting e-mails you didn't have time to read during the past year or, if you're on a lot of lists, as many of those as possible.)
31. New Year's Eve and/or World Peace Day


1. New Year's Day
2. Science Fiction Day; also, St. Gregory's Day. (St. Gregory was a bossy bore whose story suggests some alternative celebrations for non-Catholics.) Also, Rabi'ul-Awwal, the Birthday of the Prophet, a controversial Muslim holiday since purists don't think their Prophet wanted his birthday celebrated.
3. Tolkien Day
4. Spaghetti Day; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's Day
5. Bird Day
6. Bean Day; Epiphany (Three Kings Day, Old Christmas, Festival de los Reyes, Twelfth Night)
7. Programmers Day
8. Elvis Presley's birthday; Argyle Day (celebrated by wearing argyle patterns)
9. St. Fillan's Day; Panama Martyrs Day
10. Cut Your Energy Costs Day, scheduled for the time when North Americans most need it
11. Fruitcake Toss Day. (This is not, traditionally, much of a holiday. Several saints and historical events are associated with the eleventh of January but few if any of them suggest celebrations.)
12. Pharmacists Day
13. Skeptics Day; Stephen Foster Day (his jahrtzeit--he really was born on the fourth of July)
14. Ratification Day--an alternative celebration for the U.S. Constitution
15. Martin Luther King's Birthday, usually celebrated on the next Monday
16. Tub'sh'vat (New Year for Trees Day); St. Priscilla's Day
17. St. Anthony's Day; also sometimes dedicated to Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, collectively, as the authors of the New Testament; San Francisco Cable Cars Day
18. Bald Eagle Day; National Pro-Life Day (on which Grandma Bonnie Peters happened, against all odds, to be born alive and well); Winnie-the-Pooh's Birthday; St. Prisca's Day. (Definitely two, and possibly three, leaders of the early Christian Church were called Prisca or Priscilla. One was a rich Roman; one or two were Jews banished from Rome.)
19. St. Agnes' Eve, as discussed by Keats; Popcorn Day; Robert E. Lee's Birthday
20. Inauguration Day; Penguin Awareness Day. (If you've been in Silver Spring, Maryland, you recognize a connection between these things.) St. Agnes' Day, or Eve.
21. Squirrel Day; St. Agnes' Day.
22. Answer Your Cats' Questions Day; Roe v. Wade Day, for those who don't appreciate National Pro-Life Day; Celebration of Life Day (Asian); St. Timothy's Day
23. St. Margaret of Ravenna's Day
24. Peanut Butter Day; St. Francis de Sales Day
25. Robert Burns' Birthday
26. St. Margaret of Hungary's Day; also, sometimes a day celebrating Sts. Timothy, Titus, and Silas
27. Holocaust Memorial and Vietnam Peace Day
28. St. Thomas Aquinas' Day; Plug-In Developers Day; Chinese New Year Day
29. Thomas Paine's Birthday (Freethinkers Day, Curmudgeons Day); Corn Chip Day; Seeing Eye Dogs Day
30. Croissants Day
31. Backwards Day; St. John Bosco's Day