Who doesn’t love to party down on a federally mandated holiday? Usually the people who know what actually happened on said holiday.
The dark history of Thanksgiving is helped spur people to think about what they’re actually celebrating, and once you look into the back stories of many different celebrations, you realize that there are a lot of holidays based on genocide. America celebrates most of them, but there are plenty of holidays that shouldn't exist that are still celebrated all across the world.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who was purposefully celebrating Thanksgiving as an excuse to stick it to America’s indigenous people one more time, but it’s still important to remember the terrible fate Native Americans suffered as colonists began to claim land that they didn’t rightfully own.
Most people do their best to not think about the terrible catalysts behind their traditions, and that’s understandable. Who needs one more horrible thing to think about during the day? But if you’d like to dive deep into the world of misery that created some of your favorite holidays, this collection of horrific events that helped create some of the world’s most popular holidays is right here waiting for you.
If you know about another holiday with less-than-positive beginnings, leave a comment about it and prove that you’re the next Howard Zinn.
The Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Kabgayi DiocesePhoto: MSGT Rose Reynolds / via Wikimedia
This lesser-known holiday was actually a celebration that occurred in South Africa when the Catholic Church decided to throw a 25th anniversary party for priests who had taken part in the Rwandan genocide that began in 1994. Two of those priests, Emmanuel Rukundo and Joseph Ndagijimana, were convicted of international crimes and sentenced to 25 years and life in prison, respectively.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) Dr. Jean-Damascene Bizimana said that, "A person who was convicted with genocide crime and got sentenced, regardless of any status they have, cannot hold a jubilee for them." He went on to say that the priests deserved to be excommunicated.
Australia DayPhoto: Public Domain / via Wikipedia
G'day mate! If you're down under on January 26th, why not celebrate Australia Day? You can take in the harbor parade in Sydney or the Annual Cockroach Races at Story Bridge Hotel, before catching the fireworks at Victoria Harbor meant to commemorate the First Fleet arriving from England and dropping off a load of prisoners who would settle the harsh land and make it a home for themselves.
Just don't bring up the fact that from 1788 to 1920, the indigenous population of Australia dropped from 750,000 to a staggering 60,000.
Independence DayPhoto: Public Domain / via Wikipedia
No offense, rest of the world, but America is the absolute best at destroying a group of people and turning their misery into a family-friendly holiday where people take the day off to chillax and pretend like we haven't done some of the worst stuff imaginable.
July 4th might be the worst of the lot. Of course, celebrating the day that the United States won its freedom from England is great, but the fact that we were fighting for the freedom to enslave an entire race of people so we could make money selling the goods that they harvested is legitimately stone-cold. Not to mention the crimes we committed against Native Americans.
And now, at a time when the wealthiest 1% of the country are essentially playing chess with our livelihoods, it feels a little silly to be eating hot dogs and watching fireworks when we haven't really come very far from such tyrannical beginnings.
Hispanic DayPhoto: Theodori de Bry / via Wikimedia
When you're celebrating a day that has the name of a race in the title, it's probably not good. In Spain, Hispanic Day is essentially Columbus Day and it's sometimes referred to as Fiesta Nacional de España. It usually occurs around October 10th. And even though the festival has changed focus over the last few decades, it was still started as a way to celebrate Columbus crossing the Atlantic Ocean and getting rid of indigenous Americans.
Activists in Badalona, Spain actually went so far as to get the day banned in their city, saying that the holiday "celebrates the genocide of the occupation of America and has Francoist connotations," and that it is a way to "extol the values of his dictatorship." Yikes.