Why do we celebrate?

EmilyWe have a lot of national holidays in the United States.  Some of them are widely celebrated and their significance is known.  For example, think of holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.  

On Monday, February 15, we celebrated President’s Day.  Originally created to celebrate the birthday of the first president, George Washington, the name was changed to also include 16th President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is earlier in February.  The day is often thought to be a celebration of all of the lives of all of the Presidents of the United States, according to Britannica.  

In the United States, we have 11 federal or regional public holidays.  Many of them are seen as nothing more than a day off from school or work, if you are lucky.  These holidays should have much more meaning than this.  

I agree that everyone deserves a day off every once in a while.  My concern is with the reason.

Would Washington’s birthday not be a great opportunity for school children to learn about his presidency or the Revolutionary War?  Martin Luther King Jr. Day would be a great chance to recognize and work toward groundbreaking legislation–not to sleep in until noon.

As a child, my mom used to take me to the local arts council on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, where there was a celebration of his life and works, all shown in the arts through crafts, skits and films.  This is a great example of how a holiday can be used for good to truly celebrate the accomplishments of the person, or memorialize the day.

Unfortunately, I am well aware that most children do not spend their days off this way, and even fewer adults do.  Taking a break from hard work is necessary and deserved, but the memories of these great people and events should be remembered in a better way than sleeping in and watching reality television.