I’ve always thought that the holidays of the year were poorly distributed. Why do we stack all the major ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.) at the end, and leave pretty much the whole first half of the year barren? It just doesn’t make any sense. Presidents’ Day Weekend can’t possibly support all of our mental health needs on its own. If I were President, spring break would be an adult holiday too.
Anyway, let’s rank the holidays in January.
Measure Your Feet Day – Jan 23
I literally have no idea. I read online that ancient Icelanders celebrated rainstorms by measuring their feet. It didn’t explain why these two things are related. I guess you should double check to make sure you have the right shoe size or something.
Punch the Clock Day – Jan 27
When I first read this, I thought it was a day to make futile attempts to stop the continuous march of time by balling your fists and punching clocks wherever you saw one. Turns out it’s a much less existential acknowledgement of the punch clock, invented in 1888. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
5. Play God Day – Jan 9
On midnight of January 9, everyone should have suddenly felt power running through their veins, suddenly omnipotent and omnipresent, with the ability to warp time and reality (a much more successful way to manipulate time than punching a clock). Wouldn’t that be interesting – if on January 9, through some cosmic fluke, we all had the abilities of gods but no one realized it? Someone should write a book about that.
Turns out the idea behind this day is to just do something nice for someone that reflects God’s blessings. Lame.
4. Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year – Jan 22
2023 is the year of the Rabbit! Sorry, Tiger of 2022, it’s time to move along.
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to have a soft and tender personality with a modest attitude, and prefer peace and quiet. Though they prefer to avoid confrontation, they are stubborn on the inside.
There are lots of cool traditions that come with celebrating the Chinese New Year. Tria Wen, a writer at Reader’s Digest, lists a few: Decorate with red, which is a symbol of new life and prosperity.
Visit family! China typically takes this week off.
Give money! It’s tradition to give red envelopes with crisp clean bills to young people and friends. Amounts with the number 8 are preferable; avoid the number 4, which in Chinese is an approximate homophone for the word for death! (Hm. Maybe I should have changed the rank of this holiday.)
Eat lots of good food, including long noodles, which are symbols of longevity.
Watch dragon and lion dances at a festival and make some noise! Noise is said to scare away evil spirits, which is why firecrackers are so popular.
3. National Bagel Day – Jan 15
I’m from New Jersey, and while I prefer Rhode Island in most ways, there are three or four categories in which the dirty jerz reigns supreme: pizza, beaches (I’ll fight over this one), and bagels. Diners are pretty much equal, but I give the Garden State the edge for quantity and having menus that rival The Cheesecake Factory.
Also, no one says “Joisey.” Kindly drop it from your vocabulary.
Anyway, bagels: The best bagels I’ve had in Rhode Island are probably over at Bagel Gourmet on Thayer Street, but they don’t hold a candle to G&A Hot Bagels on Rt. 23 in Butler, NJ. The place is open 24/7 and always has a gritty New Jerseyan behind the counter. My usual there is the sausage egg and cheese on an everything, sal-peppah-ketchup. Literal heaven.
2. Penguin Awareness Day – Jan 20
Last November, it was announced that penguins would be returning to the Roger Williams Zoo! I love those stinkin’ little muppets. I love how male penguins try to impress female penguins with little rock gifts. I also love the story about the two penguin dads at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse: they were judged by zoo staff to be the best parents to raise a chick, and were given one and did an excellent job. Penguins are great.
1. MLK Jr. Day – Jan 16
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible orator, organizer, and activist for equality. His legacy includes both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, in addition to a great number of letters, speeches, and protests that pushed the social needle in American society away from discrimination and towards inclusion — an accomplishment much more difficult than passing a law.
My greatest concern is that opponents of justice manipulate MLK’s legacy to prevent protest: “This is not what MLK would have wanted,” etc. It would do us well to remember that MLK’s preaching of nonviolence did not protect him from the violence that ended his own life. I’ll close up this edition of Holidays, Ranked with some MLK quotes.
“…riot is the language of the unheard.”
“Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”