As I’ve said before, you don’t need to celebrate holidays if you don’t want. More importantly, you don’t need to celebrate holidays in the way that they were intended.
But what to do instead? I decided to come up with a few ideas of ways to celebrate some holidays in different ways. These are just ideas, of course; feel free to come up with your own.
The problem – A holiday created by the greeting card industry, my favorite. Do we really need to specify a day to express our feelings? If we’re single, must we be reminded of it (even if we are happy as we are)?
An experience – My favorite Valentine’s day was probably last year, when I went to an event/performance hosted by Dan Savage. It was about as NSFW an event as you can get, with a stage containing lap dances, bondage displays, cake frosting, and that’s all I’ll say about it now. (Audio of this event is available, though.) It also included free giveaways such that I can not wait until the next white elephant gift exchange.
A suggestion – If you must celebrate, why not celebrate your own sexual and emotional freedom (as well as those of others)? Put up a sign saying “free hugs” outside City Hall. Donate to (or volunteer at) your favorite reproductive rights organization. I’ll let your imagination run wild here.
The problem – Over-commercialization, debt, traffic-inducing, songs that will never die.
An experience – For the past three years, I have instead gotten a hotel and took time out to perform an annual review.
A suggestion – Get a hotel (or find a coffeeshop that is open) and do spend a few hours thinking about your year. Figure out what went right and what went wrong. Think about what you would like to accomplish in the year ahead. Buy nothing (aside from a coffee).
July 4th / Independence Day
The problem – Enforced nationalism may not be your thing.
An experience – I held a “Canadian 4th of July” party this year, party in honor of a friend who had come to visit. What does a Canadian party entail? Well, I guess you had to be there.
A suggestion – If you are not from the US, you don’t have this holiday (or at least not in the same place in the calendar). With that in mind, why not celebrate the nationalist struggles of other places? Learn about past independence movements (perhaps making dinner in the style of that place’s cuisine). Learn about the places that are struggling right now. It seems especially apropos to spend this day being cognizant of the world outside your own home’s borders.
The problem – These exist in the UK. I’m not sure I totally understand their purpose, but I think it has something to do with the fact that there are few other holidays in the year. Actually, this may not be a problem, since there is no Halloween or Thanksgiving there; can you imagine if the Christmas season started in September!?
A suggestion – Since this is bank-related, why not celebrate a day promoting financial literacy? Dump your mega-bank for a credit union. In addition to your monthly budget, plan some things you’d like to accomplish with your finances. Be even more daring and talk about this with some friends as opposed to keeping it all in your head. Talking things out will make them more likely to succeed anyway.
If you like certain holidays, that’s fine, but why celebrate them at the same time as everyone else? There are practical reasons for time-shifting holidays, but it’s also fun. Here are some ideas:
- Dress up in costume and wander your neighborhood asking for candy in June. (This seems especially tailor-made for Portland.)
- Have a New Year’s party on the Jewish New Year, or the Tibetan New Year, or the Wiccan New Year.
- Wear green and drink a lot on your favorite Patrick’s birthday. (Patrick Henry? Patrick Stewart? Patrick Swayze?)
Alternately, you could celebrate holidays exactly as you are told to do by large corporations and societal pressure. It’s your choice. But I can tell you which one sounds more appealing to me.
But enough about me. How have you creatively celebrated holidays?
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