We all love to celebrate a day off of work or school when a holiday comes around. But where do holidays come from? Today Brittany and Emma discuss the origins of holidays and the role governments play in their creation.
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Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: So today we’re gonna talk a little bit about holidays.
Brittany: That sounds fun.
Emma: I love the holidays. I love all different kinds of holidays all throughout the year. I like that they give me something to look forward to. They give me an excuse to see my family who, live pretty far away from me. So I am a big fan of holidays, but I kind of wanna talk more broadly about what they are and what they mean, and what makes something a holiday. So first, I’ll tell you a couple of my favorite ones. obviously, I’d love Christmas. Christmas is great. but I actually think I like thanksgiving a little more than Christmas cause it’s like there’s zero stress with it. It’s usually no presents A pretty chill holiday. Yeah, no presents to worry about. Like I, like giving people gifts, but it does add a little bit of a stress element and like, you wanna make sure people like your gift. But I love Thanksgiving cause I love to cook. I’ve always loved getting in the kitchen with my mom and cooking stuff up for our family. And yeah, I love spring holidays. Easter has always been a favorite of mine. My birthday’s right around Easter. I’ve had a few Easter birthdays actually, which has been fun. But yeah, I like the spring season when everything starts to kind of start growing again and it’s like the winter’s over. We’ve survived. and as a Christian, Easter’s super important to me as well. it’s a religious holiday. Same with Christmas. So, Brittany, I don’t know if you have any other holidays that you love.
Brittany: Well, I always joke that my birthday is my favorite holiday. And that’s because, cuz Connor and I have the same birthday, really? l so I’ve made a joke with me. Yes, we do. So that is my favorite holiday. It’s not a real holiday, but.
Emma: Yes, It is, we’ll get into that more later actually.
Brittany: Exactly. It’s a good segue. but I think my favorite holidays, independence day one because I love summer. I love the country’s founding. I love the Declaration. I love you, Thomas Jefferson. But I also love cheeseburgers, which I’ve talked about in the show a million times. Yes. And so for me, it’s like a culmination, which means like all my favorite things come together. And living in DC has been really fun. The first like four years I lived here, I used to be on a boat in the Potomac every year. Yeah. So it was beautiful. I was watching the fireworks and there’s something just so patriotic about watching, you know, the fireworks over, over the capitol. And again, like I’m not, I don’t love government all the time, obviously but I love our country’s founding. I love the ideals we were founded on. And so Independence Day has always been probably my favorite holiday.
Emma: I love Independence Day and there is nothing like it. If you can ever experience it in DC there’s not a lot of things that I would recommend. You go to DC four I’m kind of a bitter x DC resident.
Brittany: That’s fair. I’m a bitter current resident. Yeah.
Emma: Yeah. So, but if you can experience, Washington during the 4th of July, it is unbelievable. I got to do that for a couple of years. And just seeing the fireworks, just all of the people gathered to celebrate our country, it’s such an amazing thing to be a part of. And it gives you this cool feeling of, and maybe you’ve experienced this with another holiday, but it gives you this feeling of being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. Yeah. And it’s like, yeah, we’re not huge fans of the government. We’re not huge fans of the way that the government controls our lives. But I do love America and America’s a really special thing to be a part of. So I love that you talked about that. That’s a really cool holiday. but going back into sort of the history of how holidays got started, most holidays in like early ancient times were religious and people would take breaks from, you know, working really hard cuz people back then they worked very, very hard to stay alive and provide for their families. And they would take these breaks usually throughout the year and it would be days or even weeks of celebration. and they would gather and they would, you know, they would go through their religious ceremonies but also they would celebrate and they would really party and have a great time. and that’s something that when you look back, I think it gave people a lot to look forward to. It gave them a lot to celebrate and it also allowed them to take rest from their lives. And I think rest is something that’s important in moderation. we all need a chance to sort of recuperate and celebrate and be with our loved ones and make those memories that when you get older you can look back on and say, wow, that was really amazing. Kind of like, we’re talking about 4th of July in DC Yeah. Like, that was an amazing memory for me. so that’s something, that, you know, holidays have always been like, let’s pause, let’s take a break and let’s spend time with our loved ones and celebrate that we’re alive and we’re doing well and we’re together. And I think that’s really cool. And Brittany, I don’t know if you wanna talk a little bit about sort of how that comes into play in modern times. Cuz I’ve talked a lot about like way, way back when, but we still need this today.
Brittany: We do. Absolutely. And you know, there, maybe like, I can’t remember how many federal, like federally sanctioned holidays. There are maybe like 10 where we get days off work. Yeah. And those have switched over the years. Like Columbus Day, I used to get off school as a kid and then when I was a teacher. We didn’t, but we still need that break. I know that I look forward to the days where I don’t have to go to work. Right. I get to relax for a day. You know, we just had, at the time of recording this, we just had Memorial Day. It was nice to take a little three-day weekend with Memorial Day. Yeah. it’s nice when we have Labor Day, things like that. But what I always find funny now, and social media has a lot to do with this. And we don’t get days off for this, but every day is a holiday now. Oh yes. It’s like people appreciation day or like, yes. National Pizza Day. But what’s funny to me is one time it was like National Pet Day and then three months later it was like national favorite Pet Day. Like they’re just like making very, it’s just like a reason to post things on Instagram. Totally. But we are obsessed with holidays. Like we look forward to these things and it seems like we’re so eager to have them. We’re just creating things and it’s given, companies a good way. So like there was Donut Day a couple of weeks ago and Donut Day, like Dunking Donuts was giving away free donuts. So it’s like we win as consumers from all these silly holidays.
Emma: It’s true.
Brittany: Because people give away free stuff.
Emma: Yeah. That’s a great point there. I feel like every time I open Instagram, I don’t know how many listeners are on social media. It’s usually kind of a waste of time. We’ve talked about that. Yes. But every time it’s like, oh, it’s National Dog Day, it’s National Cat Day, and Gerbil Day. And it like goes into all this different.
Brittany: It just goes on and on.
Emma: Like, I think today I looked it up actually the day that we’re recording this, it is National Eat Your Vegetables Day. And I’m all on board with that. I love eating my vegetables, but I’m like, who comes up with this stuff? But that’s kind of what I wanna go into a little bit more here is how does the government play into the way that we celebrate holidays? Because as we’ve talked about there have been holidays for a lot longer than there has been the government, like yes, there are holidays that people celebrate every year in America that are older than America. And when you kind of look at that, you’re like, well, do we get to celebrate because the government told us it’s a federal holiday? Or do we celebrate because it’s important to us? And the government just happens to recognize that. So it’s kind of this interesting like, tension that exists there. And we have, you know like you said Brittany, I think it’s between like 10 and 15 federal holidays and a lot of people have no clue what they actually mean. Like, we’ve got Columbus Day, Inauguration Day is technically a federal holiday.
Brittany: Nobody knows Memorial Day. And in fact, it cracks me up every year. Nobody, because everybody treats Memorial Day. Like Veterans Day.
Emma: Yes, exactly.
Brittany: I noticed, no one knows what Memorial Day means.
Emma: Right. And if you’re wondering if you’re listening, Memorial Day is a day when you honor those who have fallen in service to their country. So people who had.
Brittany: It just people who’ve died? See, this is where I get confused. I thought it was just anyone who’s died.
Emma: Is it? if I see.
Brittany: I don’t know.
Emma: Okay. So we’ll have to clarify there. but yeah, it’s, and then there’s Veterans Day, which is anyone who has served. So it’s, confusing to say the least. There’s not a lot of clarity. And I think a big part of that is because these holidays are not really organic to our culture. Like there aren’t a lot of people, if you were to ask a hundred people what Christmas is about or what Easter or Passover even is about, most of them would be able to probably tell you what those holidays represent. And I think that’s because they’re a lot older, and a lot more like worldwide and more recognized than even the United States government. Like they’ve been around for a lot longer and they’re much more ingrained into who we are as people. And you know, there’s all different religious holidays and they go, you know, they’re all so different and they have their own customs. But if you ask people generally what, like some of the most common holidays are, they can explain it to you. But I bet if you were to go out and ask, you know, a hundred people what flag day means and what’s the difference between Flag Day and Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the 4th of July, they’re probably not gonna be able to tell you what the differences are. And that’s, I don’t blame people for that. Those holidays are just not super organic. And I’m all for, you know, let’s celebrate our veterans, let’s celebrate people who serve our country. but it is kind of interesting how those things are really celebrated. They’re really like promoted by the government, but a lot of people don’t actually know what they are. And the way that I look at it is the government doesn’t make something a holiday or not a holiday. Like your birthday, you know, I was gonna say this before Brittany even be said, it was,
Brittany: It should be.
Emma: Her birthday holiday. And I agree, I love taking my birthday to enjoy myself, but your birthday might be your all-time favorite day of the year. You might look forward to it all year, but the government doesn’t care. The only thing the government cares about with your birthday is that you’re a year older and a year closer to getting your social security checks or, you know, a year closer to retiring or paying taxes or whatever it is. So the government doesn’t care. But it’s still a huge deal to you. Right. You look forward to it. Look forward too.
Brittany: Every year.
Emma: Yeah. Getting your birthday presents or maybe when you get older, just having a bit of a break, getting to do whatever you want in a day. So that, like, does that make it not a real holiday? I don’t think so, but it’s just a matter of how we recognize these things. And it’s, there’s this broader conversation too of, you know, just because the government tells us that something needs to be celebrated doesn’t mean that it needs to be celebrated. Yeah. And then on the flip side, just because we celebrate something doesn’t mean that the government needs to recognize it. So there’s sort of that interesting back and forth there.
Brittany: And I think that we mentioned religious holidays. I think that’s especially important, you know if you wanna if wanna celebrate or recognize a religious holiday. So in Utah, where I’m from and also where Connor is from, we have a second 4th of July called Pioneer Day. And that is a religious holiday for people who are eldest there, it’s when pioneers got to Utah even. And even people who aren’t religious celebrated in the state because it’s such a big deal in the state. Yeah. So it’s interesting like that’s not a federally recognized holiday, but it is in our state because that’s what the community celebrates. It’s important to us. But I’m curious, Emma, I know we’ve talked about this a little bit offline, but about, you know, Juneteenth, and if you could tell us a little bit about that and how that kind of comes into play with politics.
Emma: Totally. So Juneteenth, if you’ve never heard of it, is a holiday that basically celebrates when the news of the last, basically slaves that were being held in Texas after the Emancipation Proclamation. What a mouthful after that was basically passed and that was made the law of the land. There were still a lot of people who were being held as slaves because people were refusing to submit to the law. And so these people, union soldiers brought in news that they had been freed. And this was in Galveston, Texas, and I can’t remember the year. It was on June 19th and that’s why it’s called Juneteenth. And it started just as a local holiday in Galveston, Texas, which this a town on the coast of Texas. And it started talk about a holiday starting organically. People started celebrating it in Galveston and then it sort of spread within the area, within the black community. And then Texas started celebrating it as a state. So if you talk to people who live in Texas, people who grew up there, regardless of their race, a lot of them will tell you that Juneteenth is a super important holiday to them. And something that’s kind of come up in the last year or so. As you know, we’ve had a lot of conversations about race and about, you know, the laws in our country and sort of how our laws in our government interacts with different, racial communities is whether or not Juneteenth should be a federal holiday. And it’s kind of interesting because, you know, the way that I look at this, it’s like I would love to celebrate people getting their long overdue independence. Anytime someone is celebrating their freedom and especially being freed from, you know, laws that were oppressing them. I am all about that. Like, that makes me really happy. And that’s why I’m like, yeah, Juneteenth is awesome. I didn’t grow up really knowing what it was or celebrating it, but I love that. I think it’s really cool. but then when you also talk about like the government angle of it, it’s like, well, you know, does DC politicians coming in and saying, well this is a holiday. Does that make it any more or less of a holiday? I don’t necessarily think it does. Yeah. And you know, it’s kind of like, all right, the only difference now is that the government has just said this is a holiday and put there, you know, the stamp of approval on it. And now if you work that day, you have to get paid a little more. So that’s like, it’s like an interesting conversation about, again, does the government decide whether or not something is a holiday? No, but I think a lot of people, to them Juneteenth is super significant and super important. So seeing the government recognize that might feel good to them, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t make it more or less a holiday.
Brittany: And I think it’s very interesting we bring this up now. Now obviously our listeners are going to listen to this in a couple months, but yeah, I think it was like today or this week, maybe it was today, it was, yeah. By, President Biden officially said, okay, Juneteenth is a holiday. But I think you bring up an excellent point. Just because he’s declared it a holiday doesn’t make it any more or less important as it was a day ago. Right. If you are celebrating freedom in any capacity, like Alex, you said, I completely support that, but we shouldn’t, you know, rank the importance of something just because a politician says, okay, we should think this is important. You know, whatever’s important exactly to you is important.
Emma: Right. And there have been people that have been celebrating Juneteenth since before the Civil Rights Act was passed and they could even vote where they’re saying, yeah, we were freed from slavery. This is the day that we celebrate to recognize that, but we can’t even vote still. So, you know, if you’re waiting for the government to do something before you celebrate it or before you take part in it, you could actually have the government like actively oppressing you and actively oppressing your ability to gather. Like that’s something that we saw even in the last year where people were, you know, being told by their state government, you can’t gather with more than six people. Yes. in your immediate family.
Brittany: Freedom thanksgiving.
Emma: So it’s like, that’s a big problem too. But I could talk about this all day. Brittany, we gotta wrap it up here cuz we’re hitting 15 minutes, but we will leave some more info on what makes a federal holiday and sort of that legislation in the show notes at Tuttletwins.com/podcast. Thank you so much for listening guys. Thank you, Brittany, for being on.
Brittany: Talk to you later.
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