Thursday, April 25, 2013

Anzac Day and other holidays you didn't know about

I just looked at the calendar and noticed that today is Anzac Day.

But of course you already knew that.

Your calendar probably doesn't tell you that today is Anzac Day. Mine does.

That's because it's an Australian calendar, given to us by our Australian friends, the Jones family.

We love the Joneses. They're wonderful people. Their daughter, Chelsea, is coming to stay at our house for a few days this summer.

When Chelsea arrives, it will mark exactly the second time any of us has ever actually met a member of the Jones family in person. The other time was a couple of years ago when the whole family (all seven of them) toured the U.S. in a gigantic R.V. and spent a weekend with us when passing through Ohio.

For the most part, though, we only know them electronically. My wife met Kerri Jones through a church-related email discussion list, and the relationship grew even closer with the advent of Facebook.

Now we consider them to be very close friends, even though we hardly ever see them. Because as you know, Australia is farther away than Saturn.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, today is Anzac Day, according to our Australian calendar.

I actually know who/what the Anzacs were, but only because of my strangely intense interest in the First World War. Otherwise, I would have guessed that they were some sort of insect ("We had a terrible infestation of Anzacs, but the exterminator was able to get rid of them.")

"Anzac" stands for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps," a military force that fought the horrible Gallipoli campaign in Turkey against the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1916. It was a badly conceived operation, and as is usually the case in such instances, it was the poor infantry on the ground who had to pay the price for strategic errors made in some staff meeting room thousands of miles away.

Anzac Day is observed every April 25th to remember those young men who fought at Gallipoli almost a full century ago. It's actually quite a solemn occasion in Australia and New Zealand.

Seeing as the majority of the readers of this little blog are American, I'm guessing 99% of us didn't know that. We in this country have a hard time understanding or even caring about anything that happens outside of our neighborhoods, let alone half a world away.

But then again, we already have quite a list of holidays and observances here that makes us all a little immune to, well, holidays and observances.

Anzac Day is not our holiday, but Arbor Day is. That's tomorrow. I know it has something to do with trees, and that you're supposed to plant one, but that's the extent of my Arbor Day knowledge.

Armed Forces Day this year is Saturday, May 18th. Which is of course not to be confused with Memorial Day nine days later when we watch parades, eat candy, cook out in our backyards, and vaguely remember that the day has something to do with soldiers.

Then there's also:

  • Parents Day (July 28th...really)
  • Senior Citizens Day (Aug. 21st)
  • Grandparents Day (Sept. 8th)
  • Leif Erikson Day (Oct. 9th)
  • Boss' Day (Oct. 16th)
  • Pan American Aviation Day & Wright Brothers Day (both Dec. 17th)
  • Dog Vomit Appreciation Day (Dec. 20th)
I only made up one of those. The rest are real holidays. For better or for worse.

The holiday I dislike the most is Sweetest Day, which is held on a Saturday every October.

I assumed Sweetest Day was a universal holiday, but apparently not. Wikipedia suggests that it's celebrated primarily in the Midwestern U.S. and "mostly in Cleveland."

Why exactly do we in Cleveland get stuck with this fake holiday? Because it was thought up in the 1920s by a group of Cleveland-area candymakers.

Not that they would profit by the existence of such a holiday, of course. No sir, that was just a coincidence.

Terry and I don't celebrate Sweetest Day. If I try to buy her anything that day, she yells at me for wasting money.

Which is one of the reasons why I love her. I think I'll save that Sweetest Day money and wait to buy her something instead on Leif Erikson Day.

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