The photograph on the right is by Karen Rzonca and is used in accordance with her Creative Commons license.
Next Monday will mark the first ever statutory holiday to be observed in Ontario in February. During last October’s election campaign, Dalton McGuinty enacted this holiday, bringing us in line with Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States in terms of the number of holidays observed each year. And, like Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Liberal government chose to name this day Family Day.
I appreciate the additional long weekend as much as anybody. It’s a long hard slog to go from New Year’s Day to Easter without a break somewhere, and many people have been calling for a February holiday. However, I have to say that I am less than impressed by the term “Family Day”. It feels like a holiday some civil servant spent about six minutes considering.
True, any new holiday is going to have to wait at least a year to become a tradition, but the name “Family Day” is too bland to build one. It has none of the sense of history as a holiday celebrating Sir John A. Macdonald’s birthday would. It has none of the opportunities for civics lessons that a Prime Ministers Day would offer. It has none of the cultural significance of Chinese New Year. And we already have Mothers Day and Fathers Day to pump up the revenues of restaurants (I’m serious; have you tried to get a reservation for a restaurant on any of these days? Good luck!).
Indeed, I’ve said it before, that Family Day feels too much like the made-up holiday from that Simpson’s episode: Love Day. Why didn’t they just call it Love Day?
Costingtons Manager: Okay, people, we need to cook up a new holiday for the summer. Something with gifts, cards, assorted gougeables.
Costingtons Woman: How about something religious? We had great penetration last spring with Christmas Two.
Costingtons Man: Oh, I know. Spendover, like Passover, less talk, more presents.
[Everyone starts talking at once]
Costingtons Manager: No, no, no! No, it’s gotta be warm and fuzzy. Some like, um, “Love Day”, but not so lame.
[cut to the Simpsons home several days later]
Marge Simpson: Happy Love Day, everyone!
Lisa Simpson: Come on, Mom, The stores just invented this holiday to make money.
Homer Simpson: Lisa, don’t you ruin another Love Day.
And that’s when it hit me: we could all still call it Love Day.
Why not? It would be a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the artificiality of this holiday, welcome though it is. And if you’re looking for better justifications, think of this: what about people who are estranged from their families? How does Family Day serve them?
Yes, what about that poor sod living alone, miles away from anybody, getting increasingly bitter as he fires off rambling, increasingly incoherent letters to the prime minister and the newspaper editors of the country? Doesn’t he deserve a holiday? Why insult the fact that he has no children? Why rub salt in his wounds?
And why “Love Day”? Well, it’s the cultural connection. What day do you find on the calendar just four days before? That’s right: Valentine’s Day. And, yes, maybe it’s an insult to those outside of relationships, but they’re already getting that from Valentine’s Day, so they might as well get a day off to go with that.
And “Love Day” is a little bit more elegant than the more honest “We-needed-an-extra-day-to-just-lie-around-and-do-nothing-so-let’s-make-it-this-day Day.
So, clearly, the McGuinty government missed an opportunity here. No more will I refer to the third Monday of February as Family Day. That bland term will no longer pass my lips. No. Instead, let this day be known around the realm as Love Day. Say it with me: Love Day! Say it to Queen’s Park: Love Day! So, whose with me? Whose with me?