Wednesday, July 9, 2008

After July 4th

I don't guess I am the only one who feels just a little down when a holiday is over. After all, holidays are a break from the everyday, workday routine. A good many of us have time off from work on holidays, They are times of celebration which families usually spend together. It is perhaps natural then for someone to hate to see a holiday go.

In some respects, I think this is more so with July 4th than most holidays. Halloween ends, only to have Thanksgiving right around the corner. Thanksgiving ends, only to have the Yuletide less than a month away. Christmas might end for many with December 25, but New Year's Day is only a week away. July 4th is a different case entirely. Once July 4th is over, there is nothing left but the long, hot days of summer. It is true Labour Day comes in September, but in my mind it's not a real holiday. It is simply a day off from work, and it is not even that for many.

It is times like these that I think the American holiday calendar may be poorly designed. Between July 4th and Halloween, there are no holidays of importance. There are no days when families gather together for celebration. No holidays with strong traditions attached to them. Most places in the United States have county fairs, but they vary widely as to when they are scheduled. For Randolph County, Old Settlers does not arrive until mid-September (there is the County Fair, but it comes too soon after July 4th, and has never really impressed me).

Sadly, I am not sure if there is much solution to this problem. There is a holiday in August that the United States could have celebrated had the English speaking world not given up many of its old festivals. Lammas was a festival celebrating the first wheat harvest of the year, traditionally held on August 1. Indeed, its name derives from Old English hlaf "loaf" and mæsse "mass." On that day it was customary to bring the first loaf of bread made from the new wheat into the church on this day. And it was traditional for tenants to present their landlords with some of the freshly harvested wheat. It was generally celebrated as the holy day of St. Peter in Chains, but given its emphasis on the harvested wheat it might actually date back to the days of paganism. Celebrating Lammas would give Americans a holiday in August.

The only question is whether or not Americans would even celebrate Lammas. The sad fact is that many modern Americans do not give much thought as to where their food actually comes from. I seriously doubt they give much thought to wheat or how the bread they eat is made from wheat grown right here in the United States. Lammas may then not be a good choice for an August holidays.

Regardless, it seems to me that there is a need for one. After all, the time between July 4th and Labour Day is rather long, and often hot, dreary, and drab. Worse yet, Labour Day is actually not much of a holiday. It seems to me that there is a real need for a real holiday that falls in August.

1 comment:

dennis said...

There is an Old Lammas Fair held every year in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland----it's one of the very last true old fashioned fairs. it's at the end of August, I guess around the 28th. The guest of honor is the Yellow man--the little tiny man who makes the honey (the bee) they make a yellow taffy candy out of honey called yellow man.

I think we should have a Big August Holiday.

Labor Day never feels like a holiday to me.