Forget Christmas; What about New Traditions for “Talk like a Pirate” Day or Dances Celebrating the Arrival of Girl Scout Cookies?

We’re in overdrive.  You too?  There are so many traditions to uphold this time of year.  And they’re fun.

Well actually sometimes the fact of keeping the tradition is more fun than the activity itself.  There’s a powerful “we always do this” factor in family traditions.  Yet I concede that there’s a potential lapse in memories, where we claim something we did once as “what we always did.”  I had a cousin visit me this week, and he matched my “We had meals together all the time when we were kids” with “Well, at least at Christmas.” So the best I can now report accurately is “I ALWAYS ate dinner with my cousin at Christmas.”

What I’m wondering is why there are so many traditions built around Christmas; why not Labor Day?  Why not Groundhog Day?  Why not Independence Day here in the U.S.?

Of course I can hope that the reason is that the coming of Christ is so much more important than Puxtahawney Phil seeing his shadow.

And of course it’s a rhetorical question anyway, for of course Christmas has more heft.  It is an entire season.  It involves time off from work.  It revolves, for better or worse, around gift-giving, so it’s got its own marketing machine(s).  It is uniformly celebrated in Christian homes and, secularly, in many non-Christian homes.  Who can argue with Santa and elves and such?


Aren't cowboy boots Christmas-y?



In our family some things pass the test of time (Christmas Eve church).  Others don’t (singing Mali Kaliki Maka).  I’m interested in your holiday traditions (Christmas or otherwise).

But what could we do to foster a movement towards more traditions around the lesser holidays?  Why?  Just for fun.

I propose the following:

  • For New Year’s Day, how about a sharing of resolutions and a symbolic releasing/forgiving of all the past year’s intentions gone awry (call it “What the Hell Day” for the first half of the day and “I’ll Try Again Day” in the afternoon).
  • For the Martin Luther King holiday, families could read To Kill a Mockingbird together.
  • For Valentine’s Day, I vote for putting red food coloring in all your food.  Remember you don’t need to call the urologist the next day to report blood.
  • For President’s Day, how about a trip to Washington, D.C. for a White House Tour (call your Senator’s office).
  • For Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the day before Lent begins, order a King Cake.  Whoever gets the piece with the (plastic) baby in it hosts next year’s party – or goes to the dentist to have his/her tooth repaired.
  • For Saint Patrick’s Day, let’s move beyond beer.  That’s getting dull.  How about some more food coloring (Nah… once a year will hold us on that).  Wear green or be pinched, as usual.

Okay, these are great but I want to focus on new traditions:

  • How about, in honor of National Girl Scout Month in March, we initiate dance parties on the day the Girl Scout cookies are available?  Households everywhere could formalize what they already do… happy dances over Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos arriving on the doorstep.
  • April brings, of course, Administrative Professionals Day (formerly Secretaries Day).  The ramifications of this are obvious. Thank an administrative professional for being, well, professional.  That’s a tradition that won’t take a chunk out of your pocketbook or calendar.
  • Cinco de Mayo gets my vote for May’s holiday to emphasize with traditions.  Any tradition should include cheese, margaritas, tortillas, Juanes songs (okay, I’m mixing countries but I do like ’em), and jalapenos in everything.
  • For the first day of summer, pray for rain and then play in it outside, preferably in your bathing suit.
  • In July, choose a country and go hog wild for Canada Day, Independence Day or Bastille Day.  Why is July so heavy laden with nationalistic holidays?  Celebrate your own heritage.  I always wanted to be a Pacific Islander when it came time to declare my heritage on some form or another.  It feels more special.  Perhaps it’s my time to learn about Kiribati’s independence from the UK. Though I see that it came in 1979, I do not know that it was July.  Perhaps I could celebrate it anyway.
  • August — to me — means traditions around selecting new spiral notebooks and sharpening my pencils. It’s the nerd’s “New Year’s,” as we nerds celebrate life starting anew with another learning cycle (even if we’ve been out of school for 40 years).  Perhaps there could be “after parties” where nerds meet up and do a big show and tell after their trips to Staples or Office Depot.
  • September is — of course — Labor Day… where we started.  But I’d like to put in a plug for “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (which I learned about on a handy online calendar of holidays).  I was disappointed to learn that it was a marketing ploy for a particular book (which I am promoting by expressing my disappointment therein), but still it sounds like a fun holiday, one that could launch many family traditions.
  • October brings Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I’m always aware of breast cancer, as I’m a 16 year survivor.  And I know pink ribbons are cute and all, but what are we supposed to do once we’re aware?  So I’m going to put in a plug for National School Lunch Week, which has more potential for the cultivation of traditions.  Think of your family gathered around a plastic tray (with sections in it) made from corn, eating corn dogs, corn and corn syrup products.  Or visit your children at school and eat with them.  Be sure and start a food fight.
  • November is “esoteric food products” month in which we berate grocery store managers if they are missing the most obscure item that was featured in Saveur or Cook’s Illustrated and that will make the holiday repast perfect.  Maybe we could start a new tradition and be less picky about our own food tastes and more mindful of others’ lack of any decent food.  I’m preaching to… me.
  • And then we’re back at December, and I really don’t think I’m going to convince you to slack up on Christmas Day in favor of Pan American Aviation Day.

But that’s as it should be, Jesus and all.

~ by Cary on December 11, 2010.

2 Responses to “Forget Christmas; What about New Traditions for “Talk like a Pirate” Day or Dances Celebrating the Arrival of Girl Scout Cookies?”

  1. You do realize, don’t you, that the Girl Scout Cookies always come during Lent?

  2. You do realize, don’t you, that that’s why I don’t give up sweets for Lent?

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