Friday, May 5, 2017

Fake Holidays

There is nothing more American than taking another culture's holiday and turning it into an over-the-top celebration of excess.  We've managed to turn the minor Feast of St Patrick's day on the Catholic Church calendar into a reason to drink Budweiser with green food dye all day while ruining a good brisket by making it into corned beef--all in the name of "being Irish".  The pagan celebration of the spring equinox that was co-opted by the Christians into Easter has been turned into a day to gorge yourself on candy and stuff baskets with toys as well.  The Austro-German tradition of St Nicholas bringing small treats like fruits or candies to kids on Christmas has been blown up to the greatest marketing and consumer event on the calendar--to the point that entire industries are made or broken by their performance in the holiday season.

And then you have today--Cinco de Mayo.  This is a small Mexican celebration of their army defeating the French in the Battle of Puebla back in 1862.  As I always like to say, as a German, if we celebrated beating the French in a battle we would have holidays every other day on the calendar.  But now that we Americans have decided to "celebrate" as well, that bit of history is completely lost.  In fact, most Americans believe that today is "Mexican Independence Day".  Cinco de Mayo now is nothing more than bars and restaurants offering specials on fruity tequila drinks, horrible cervezas and so-called "Mexican food" that no self-respecting Mexican would ever serve to their family.  With the "holiday" falling on a Friday this year (and a Saturday next year) expect to see plenty of sombreros and to hear lots of "arribas!!" at your favorite "cantina" tonight.

Personally, I'll stick to our real American holidays.  I'm always proud to see all those American flags beside the graves in cemeteries on the way up north to be with my family at the lake.  Who doesn't love grilling out while waiting for dusk and the start of fireworks on the 4th of July.  And what is more American than eating turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie while watching football on Thanksgiving?  No silly bar specials.  No dressing up like a caricature.  No need to drop a quarter of your annual salary on gifts.  (Although I continue to believe that the gift-giving frenzy of Christmas should be done on the 4th of July--since freedom is the one thing we can all celebrate in this country.  Plus it's a lot warmer then.)

So don't look for me to be doing tequila shots or taking part in a taco eating contest today.  I'm German and we have this little thing called Oktoberfest--which is 18 straight days of hard drinking and dancing.  Come at us when your ready for that, amateurs.

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