Sunday, October 25, 2009

Special days

In a recent blog post, Iota was commenting on the variety of festivals here in the US. I loved her comment about how the 'seasonal' aisles in the stores seem to exist in a time zone of their own. Christmas things are in the stores already and we haven't even had Halloween yet. In fact, in one store I was in this afternoon, there was a distinct lack of Halloween items, and what was there was already 50% off! I give it another week or so till the New Year's Eve decorations are on the shelves!

Iota noted the colours associated with various holidays here in the US:
Valentine’s Day: red and pink
St Patrick’s Day: green
Easter: yellow (and pastel shades generally)
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: red, white and blue
Hallowe’en: orange, black and purple
Christmas: green and red.
I'd add blue and silver for Hannukah and red, green and black for Kwanzaa and that the holidays each have specific shapes associated with them too:
Valentine’s Day: hearts
St Patrick’s Day: shamrocks
Easter: easter eggs, bunnies and chicks
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: stars and stripes (of course)
Hallowe’en: pumpkins and ghosts
Thanksgiving: turkeys
Hannukah: Menorahs and dreidels
Christmas: Christmas trees, holly and candy canes
Kwanzaa: kinara (candelabras)
Winter (if one is decorating for the season but avoiding specific holidays to be politically correct): snowmen and snowflakes
There are lots of other 'special days' that don't necessarily involve decorations that the kids learn about in school:
Arbor Day
Chinese New Year
Cinco de Mayo
Earth Day
Father's Day
Flag Day
Grandparents Day
Groundhog Day
Labor Day
Lincoln's Birthday
Mardi Gras
Martin Luther King Day
Mother's Day
Patriots Day
Presidents Day
Rosh Hashanah
Veteran's Day
Yom Kippur
Given the shortage of school holidays over here, they do help mark the passing of the year, even though most of them are not actually days off school. I would love to have the kids follow a 190 day English school year with regular holidays instead of the 180 days of school with most of the holidays in the summer. DD was horrified to hear that in the UK the kids are still in school till the middle of July or later. I bet she'd love to have a 2 week holiday at Christmas though! This year she'll be in school until 3 p.m. on December 23rd - what do you think of that, Auntie England?


Expat mum said...

The fact that the school year here basically consists of two terms with no breaks in the middle (OK one Spring break week), means that I'm usually on my knees at Xmas and the summer.

Iota said...

Thanks for the mention. I really do think that the festivals over here serve a similar purpose to half-term breaks in the UK. Kids need something to aim for and get excited about. Personally, I'd prefer a long week-end to a festival.

I heard that California a couple of years ago trialled the idea of a week's holiday at Thanksgiving (as a lot of people take an extra couple of days to make the 3-day break into a week anyway). Don't know if it was deemed successful or not.

mothership said...

3pm on the 23rd!?? Blimey. My Kindergartner will be off school well before that and they only keep her until 12.15. I think that is because California is broke and they can't afford to keep the teachers there and the lights on, though

Tracie Nall said...

If you live in the south, you also get Mardi Gras, which doesn't have days off of school, but there is a whole weeks worth of parades. The colors associated with it are green, purple, and yellow. The timing is slightly different each year because it relates to the timing of lent.

We do homeschooling, and school for us runs more on a "year round" system with a longer break at Christmas and a shorter summer break

Anonymous said...

I've had the impression that the UK school schedule (not to mention the lack of school buses) is a factor contributing to the fact that so few women seem to work full time--at least with the US system you have to make arrangements for the summer (which was often a summer-school thing) but all the little bits-and-pieces of time off would seem to me to make it harder for someone to work full time, the way my Mom did once I was about 8.

Almost American said...

Expat mum - the one week Christmas holiday simply isn't long enough to recover before the next round!

Iota, yes, although the festivals mark the passing of the year, a few more long weekends and less summer vacation would be fine by me!

Mothership - the school districts around here are pretty broke too! No matter what, they still have the 180 day legal requirement though. At least one district has been contemplating tinkering with the schedule - they wanted a 3 week break at Christmas/New Year to save on heating costs. The teachers' union probably nixed that idea!

Tracie - I forgot about the colours associated with Mardi Gras! Good for you, homeschooling! I could never do it!

NFAH - my mum was a teacher, so I have no idea how other families in the UK dealt with the school holidays. I know my sister has switched jobs so that she doesn't have to worry about child care. it would be a nightmare for me if I weren't a teacher - but as I teach in a different district to my kids, I still end up paying loads on before and after-school care as well as for days when our schedules are different.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Mine don't get out till the 23rd either although at least it's a half day for them.

AuntyEngland said...

I don't know what I would do if we had to work until the 23rd December!!! PANIC, probably! We break up on Friday 18th December which gives us plenty of time to get organised, chill out and enjoy being together before the BIG day! We are back in school on the 5th January (I think!)
We all enjoy our Xmas holidays - the Summer seems a long way away and our 6 week break gives us plenty of time to try and find some sunshine somewhere in the world to enjoy! Unlike you, we are not guaranteed the heat and I would definitely not enjoy working through a hot Summer however, it is nice to know that every 6 or seven weeks throughout the year we are able to enjoy a short break from work!

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