Holiday Daze or Something More?


Joanne Rhee

Who says holidays can’t be for everyone? It seems that holidays are synonymous with days off of school—and in a sense, that’s true. Although nationally-declared holidays such as Washington’s Birthday (also known as Presidents’ Day), Labor Day, and Columbus Day aren’t celebrated by everyone, they do serve a purpose for everyone. Federal holidays are reserved for 10 days out of the year and are recognized throughout the nation. The passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968 officially made all of these days (except Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and Christmas) fall on a Monday. Because of this, we students receive extended weekends.

Everyone and anyone can observe these holidays, but at the same time, we aren’t forced to do so—they’re there for those who need them. For people who don’t care about them, it’s just another day off; it’s sort of a win-win situation. It’s about giving the opportunity to commemorate these days more formally for those who wish to do so. But not everyone has to take this opportunity and can enjoy the holiday at its most basic definition—a day of rest that honors and was made possible by their namesakes’ efforts.

With fewer people celebrating these holidays, the original significance of the days are somewhat pushed to the background. It wouldn’t be a national holiday, after all, without a day off from school. For many students, they’re days to take a breath and relax. The most recent Presidents’ Day holiday coincidentally, and fortunately, fell on the week after midterms. Many students took this opportunity to sleep in, catch up on TV shows, bathe in the sun, and party.

Additionally, there’s hardly a federal holiday that goes by without the word “sale” attached to the end. Major retailers and stores know that government-owned institutions are closed in observance and thus lower their prices and have sales that are comparable to those of Black Friday. The days’ take-over by commercialistic trends is part of the reason these holidays’ original significance has disappeared. People now look forward to the deals they can find rather than remembering the veterans who fought for our country. This is especially attractive for bargain-hunting college students who can buy new things for a fraction of the price, and these holiday weekends wouldn’t be complete without seeing somebody you know on State Street on a Saturday afternoon.

Even though a large portion of students don’t observe these holidays formally, keeping the original holiday name is better than branding all the days as only administrative holidays. The name of the holiday gets people thinking about why it is so important. These holidays celebrate people and events that have played a big role in shaping America. Memorial Day celebrates the people who died serving our country to help provide security. In a way, it’s thanks to these people that we can enjoy our freedom and relax. It’s true that the original meanings of the holidays, such as celebrating those who fought for our country, get diluted; but in the end, the holidays still hold onto some of that meaning for the people who still need and want them.

Although these holidays seem insignificant, they really do hold an important role in the lives of students. The workload can get overwhelming for some, so a break from it all allows students to de-stress and refresh. They essentially allow people to do what they want: commemorate the national holiday, relax, or all of the above. Students shouldn’t feel bad about not celebrating these federal holidays for their original meanings. What people choose to do with that break is up to them.