On Made Up Holidays

NPD 1Forgetting an important occasion can lead to embarrassment, so you can understand my relief when I came upon a tweet posted last Monday by @BHamRestaurantRaider which read, “So today is #NationalPizzaDay Where will you celebrate?” Thus was avoided a repeat of the National Pasta Day Fiasco.

Properly reminded and informed, I celebrated National Pizza Day (February 9, not to be confused with November 12 which is in fact National Every Thing but Anchovies Pizza Day) where all the great holidays should be celebrated: at home with family. We kept things simple in the spirit of the solemnity of the day; a pepperoni pie for the children and an anchovy one for us. For those interested my recipes can be found at that other site or in an earlier post on this site.

There are a lot of people who deride “made-up holidays.” You hear such mumblings about Mother’s and Father’s Days but most especially about our up and coming celebration of love and lovers and the things they do to each other: Valentine’s Day.

The narrative is that holidays such as these are fueled by Hallmark or the Society of American Florists (real thing!) who vigorously market and build up what were previously non-events in order to guilt the American consumer in to buying a suddenly de rigeuer gift from them. To which I say, “So what?”

Re the above mentioned National Pasta Day I wrote:

I’d never heard of National Pasta Day until this morning, but a little Google research brought me up to speed. It turns out that its origins are murky so it’s considered an unofficial national holiday. That means that unlike official national holidays like Christmas that were voted on by congress and forced down our throats by those big government bureaucrats in Washington, NPD is one of the people’s holidays.

I was being sarcastic, but only halfway so. I like the idea of people sharing a celebration of something they mutually enjoy. DragonCon is fun. ComicCon sounds fun. Superbowl Parties are almost as fun as an average college football Saturday. So what’s wrong with a pizza buff asking other pizza buffs to commune gastronomically with one another once a year?

And I’m amused that the “Hallmark” holidays are singled out and demeaned for being “made up.” As if any holiday wasn’t. There is nothing about December 25th that screams out “Birth of our savior!” We don’t know when Jesus was actually born. Beside the fact that the 25th had a Sol Invictus celebration sized hole waiting to be filled, it was just another day on the calendar. The fourth Thursday in November is merely the last survivor of many days of thanks our forebears used to observe.

What about our nearest day of mass observance? Does Valentine’s day have any ties to February 14? None that I can find. There are many accounts about an early church leader named Valentus who was martyred for various reasons. My favorite is that he was ordered arrested by Emperor Claudius. Not the stuttering survivor of Caligula of whom I Claudius, the best soap opera ever conceived, was written. Valentus was arrested by Claudius II, or Claudius the Goth as he was known. On whether the honorific “the Goth” referred to a Germanic ancestry or a predilection for black clothing, depressing bass heavy music, and excessive eye makeup on boys, history is mum.

According to some, emperor and the imprisoned priest got along well and apparently became friends. All was as well as could be in a jailer/jailee relationship until Valentus made the mistake of trying to convert The Goth. A martyr was made.

Does anything in that hagiography relate to any date? Not enough for the Roman Catholic Church. They removed Valentine’s Day from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 (so maybe not our nearest day of mass observance). The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on July 6. But if you want to give your honey a smooch and a posy on Saturday in honor of a slain officiator of illegal wedding ceremonies, more power to you. And to you February 9 pizza eaters and October 17 pasta eaters as well.

I should note that the administrator of my office sends out a monthly schedule detailing responsibilities. It’s sent in calendar form and, following the traditions of her predecessor, she writes whatever “national day of” that day happens to be at the bottom of its box. On her most recent schedule, February 9 is not listed as National Pizza Day. It’s National Clean Out Your PC Day, and that’s okay too. Viva las made-up holidays. Maybe there should be a day to commemorate them as a whole.

So enjoy the day(s). Give gifts or don’t, but definitely don’t go blaming Hallmark or SAF for making you go get a card or some such because you felt pressured by the commercialism of the date. If you have to obey the commercials, the problem is with you, not the marketers. What a sad little strawman you are.

An aside that may not actually be an aside as it gets back to the pizza themed first paragraph: I love anchovies but I’ll never order them in a regular old pizzeria. A simple anchovy, mozzarella, and fontina pizza with marinara might be greatest combination of food stuffs not involving lamb but I’m relatively alone in that belief. I’m afraid that, as one of the eight or so anchovy eaters in Birmingham, my topping will come out of a tin that was opened when the last of my kind ordered the same thing back in the second term of the Clinton administration or so. “Death by fetid seafood.” is not a phrase I want associated with my bio.

Anyway, thanks for reading and have a happy and safe rest of National Plum Pudding Day.

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This entry was posted in Birmingham, Cooking, Food, History, Humor, Recipes, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Made Up Holidays

  1. extra anchovies please

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