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May 13, 2024

Australian Holidaze

By Dan H. Woods

March 9th is a holiday in Australia. Actually, it's three holidays according to my Dilbert page-a-day calendar (the source of my exhaustive Australian holiday knowledge). Admittedly, a cartoon strip calendar may not be the best means of an education, but if I let a little thing like lack of knowledge stop me, I'd never be able to write these columns and the last I checked, I have another 650 words to go.

Which holidays you ask? Why Eight Hours Day, Labour Day, and Commonwealth Day! Of course, this begs the question, just how does one country end up with three holidays on the same day? Was there a contest? You know, create a holiday and win a case of beer?

"Hey Sid! Whotcha doin' there?"

"Oi, Nigel! I'm gonna win me a slab a beer!"

"Go on!"

"Naw, really. Prime Ministah's got a contest -- cobble up a new holiday and get 'cherself twenty-four tinnies. I thought I'd give it a bash."

"I've always said the PM is true blue! Wot's yer holiday gonna be?"

"I call it 'Eight Hours Day'. Get this! Ya drink the amber liquid for eight hours straight!"

"Good onya! That's a winnah!"

Now, by this point, I'm guessing that my more discriminating readers will be jumping up and down and saying things like, "Hey, monkey-brain! Eight Hours Day is just another name for Labour Day!" And then they'll point out that these "two" holidays are really just the same holiday that's celebrated in different Australian territories on the same day.

But to me, that's just icing on the cake. Apparently, with a little careful planning, a savvy Australian could celebrate Labour Day four times during the year simply by being in the right territory at the right time. And because the Queen's Birthday isn't really celebrated on her birthday (which would be way too plebian) it's possible to catch that holiday twice by being in Western Australia on September 28th and anywhere else in Australia on June 8th. (Which makes me wonder: does the Queen age twice as fast in Australia as in other parts of the Commonwealth? It might explain why she so seldom visits.)

I have to admit that having a holiday land on different days inside the same country does seem a bit disorganized to me. In America, we all celebrate our holidays at the same time, sometimes sweeping together completely different holidays together -- like Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday into President's Day -- just to make things more tidy. The idea that, say, Texas might be celebrating different holidays from the rest of us seems odd. (Although to be honest, we're not really sure what goes on in Texas. There could be whole slew of Texan holidays that the rest of us have never heard of -- no doubt involving guns and pick-up trucks.)

We Americans are already hopelessly confused that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October and not in November where it belongs -- and they're a completely different country. (Well, more or less.) Apparently, the Pilgrims didn't send them the memo. But I digress...

Completing the March 9th holiday triumvirate in Australia is Commonwealth Day, which seems to be one of those new-age, touchy-feely anti-holidays. (This year's topic: diversity.) Apparently, it falls on the second Monday in March precisely because that's the day most children are in school in the Commonwealth. Now there's a cruel joke. "Here's a lovely little holiday, Johnny. But you still have to go to school." It's a pity, too, because March would be perfect picnic weather in Australia on account of it being... you know... (cough)... upside down and all.

You have to understand that we Americans are just jealous. After New Year's Day, we don't get any decent holidays until Memorial Day in May. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day are okay, I guess, but we don't get those days off. You have to celebrate them on your own time, as it were. And Martin Luther King's Day is only a holiday for government employees -- the rest of us still have to go to work. Admittedly, there are only about 200 of us left in the private sector, but even so it's not like there are parades, barbeques, or excessive drinking on MLK Day (all signs of a really good holiday). We'd take any holiday in March, let alone three of them all at the same time.

And so, Australia, since you have an excess of bank holidays in March and we don't have any, I wonder if we could start a Holiday-For-Loan program. We'll trade you Washington's Birthday for some under-used Australian holiday like Canberra Day, for example. Anything, really, as long as we can eat hotdogs and drink beer. You have to admit, it would look good on your scorecard when you're celebrating diversity on Commonwealth Day this year.

-- Dan H. Woods

Dan writes a weekly humor column called Tomfoolery & Codswallop. You can visit Dan's website where he welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns.

Article © Dan H. Woods. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-03-09
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