Any time a major holiday rolls around – whether it be religious, federal, secular, or some combination of the three – a chorus of voices arises condemning the ways in which the day has strayed from its intended purpose. For some, religious holidays lose their meaning as they become more secularized, becoming, at best, diluted versions of themselves and, at worst, blasphemous varietals of what are meant to be holy days. In the case of federal holidays, sometimes what might be intended as a somber day of reflection becomes a day of revelry.
But what holidays have most lost their meaning? Which ones have strayed the furthest from their intent in the way that people practice or celebrate them?
From Wikipedia: "Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. Colloquially, the day is also now widely known as Presidents' Day, and is often an occasion to honor the incumbent president and all persons who have served as president, not just George Washington."
From Wikipedia: "Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland."
From Wikipedia: "Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law."
From Wikipedia: "Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world."
From Wikipedia: "Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, refers to events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday (known as Shrove Tuesday). Mardi Gras is French for 'Fat Tuesday,' reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season."
From Wikipedia: "Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for 'Fifth of May') is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over the French Empireat the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza."
From Wikipedia: "Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday [which] began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year... Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States."
From Wikipedia: "Halloween... also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed."
From Wikipedia: "Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire."
From Wikipedia: "New Year's Day, also called simply New Year's or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named. As a date in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, New Year's Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus."
From Wikipedia: "Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society."
From Wikipedia: "Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world."