Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How About That?

It’s almost – and I do stress almost! – December. Which means, of course that the holidays are almost – ALMOST! – upon us.


There are still 27 days until the “big day.” That’s three and a half weeks. And quite frankly, if I read one more post about how “I’m going to wish you a …” or “I’m celebrating… so deal with it”, I’m going to scream.

Do you know how many “holidays” happen in December? According to Wikipedia there are 89 special days in the month of December. Eighty-nine! That’s almost 90. That’s almost 100.

Eighty-nine special days are celebrated in various parts of the world in a 31 day period. That’s a heck of a lot of celebration. It’s also a heck of a lot of people who could potentially be offended if their special day is not acknowledged.

Oddly, only one of those days is an official statutory holiday. (Statutory, by the way, means permitted, which effectively negates any of the other 88 special days here in Canada, so, technically, when someone does wish someone else a Happy Hanukah or Merry Yule or otherwise recognizes any special day besides the permitted one, they are, in essence, encouraging something that is statutorily, meaning enacted by statute, meaning a rule or a law, not permitted.) So, does that mean that it is illegal to wish someone a Happy Kwanza? I don’t think so. But you’d never know it by some of the posts you see on Facebook.

What gets me is that Christmas is a religious holiday, statutorily enacted (legally) as a statutory (permitted) holiday that entitles anyone employed to: a) get paid for it if they don’t work it; b) get paid double time if they do work it; or c) get another day off with pay in lieu instead, whether they are Christian or not. This, to the best of my knowledge, is due to the fact that when the statute was enacted, making December 25th a statutory holiday, the majority of people in Canada were, or claimed to be, Christian, and so it was a popular decision. I dare say that the getting paid not to work thing didn’t hurt its popularity. I dare say that if the government said, “Hey, we’re going to make Social Media Day on June 30th a statutory holiday,” everyone would go, “Okay.”

To be fair, the labour laws state that no one can be made to work on a day of religious observance if they choose to observe it for religious reasons. But there is no compensation allowed if someone does say, “Hey, I can’t work next Tuesday because it’s against my religion to work on Yarn Bombing Day.” (Okay, that was a bit cheeky, but I’m just trying to illustrate a point without honing in on any specific non-Christian religion.) Which doesn’t really seem all that fair after all.  But then again, we are dealing with a government who has just recently decided that Christian prisoners can have religious counselling, but Buddhist, Wiccan or Muslim prisoners cannot. Just sayin’.

There are now 10 statutory holidays in British Columbia – New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, BC Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas Day. (If you happen to belong to a good union, you may also get Easter Sunday and Boxing Day treated as a statutory holiday, and, if you do, be grateful, because no-one in the non-union work world does.) Only March (or April, depending on the full moon following the Spring Equinox) and June do not have statutory holidays. All of the statutory holidays have some significance attached to them. (And, no it’s not really just an excuse to party, though they are designed to be celebrated.) For instance, next February 11th, we are supposed to celebrate families. Only two of them are specifically religious in connotation. (And – for the record – both of those are closely related to traditional Pagan holidays in both timing and traditions.) For those who do not subscribe to the religion attached to those holidays (but are legally bound to accept the full day’s pay for them) they can be a bit of an ethical conundrum. I mean, really. Who is going to say, “No, I don’t want to be paid to stay at home that day.”? Yet how uncomfortable is it to feel like you are expected to celebrate something that does not resonate with you?

Well, I can tell you.


I don’t celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Yule. I also celebrate Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnassadh, Mabon and Samhain (throughout the year). I do not ask for those days off work. I do not expect to be paid for them if I don’t work them. I do accept the statutory holiday pay that I am legally entitled to for all of the ten permitted holidays, though. For the sake of convenience, I usually celebrate Yule on December 25th. It’s already permitted (as a holiday) and, the solstice is very unlikely to fall on December 25th, so it’s just easier. But if the solstice happens on a weekend, I’m all in for celebrating on the actual day. Like this year!

And I do not wish people a Merry Christmas. I wish people a Happy Holiday on the premise that it includes everyone’s special day, whatever that may be. (I briefly considered interjecting: Deal with it! here, but have chosen, rather, to take the high road and not go there. I think that it has been sufficiently implied.) (I also wish people Happy Yule from time to time, because that means something to me, not because I intend to offend.) (And I’m okay with people wishing me a Merry Christmas – for the same reasons.) (After all, that is the official name of the statutory holiday.) (I’m done qualifying now.)

It doesn’t really matter to me what anyone else celebrates. If I had my druthers, statutory holidays would be universally generic while encouraging cultural inclusion. How about a monthly statutory holiday called People Day? Or World Day? (Or some such.) How about we set aside our differences and celebrate our common humanity together without getting in each other’s faces about belief systems that do not apply to all of us?

How about that?

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