Friday, May 4, 2012

Star Wars Day, deal with it

Many people already know about May the Force/Fourth Be With You Day or International Star Wars Day.  I am surprised by how many people learn about it & respond that it is "only a made up holiday".  I have news for you:  so are all the others.

Some holidays happened because of convenience (how about we celebrate the harvest on a day after we get the crops in?), others to remember an event good or bad, fiction or non-fiction (Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 9/11, Martin Luther King Day, Juneteenth, Passover, Chanukah, Groundhog Day), others to perform some function (Town Meeting Day, Election Day, Arbor Day).  Whether or not you believe they commemorate a real event, an important cultural myth or whatever, they are all made up days.  I just cannot believe even the most avid follower of the most literal interpretation of any holy book in the history of human civilization believes the finger of their creator came down to earth, flipped the pages of the calendar currently in use (adopted less than 600 years ago) & pointed to a particular date & said "Yes indeedy, that's the day it happened".  The idea that we are observing an event that took place at some time previous on any given day because this is exactly where the earth was in relation to all other heavenly bodies when it happened is, to me anyhow, laughable.  Especially in when you factor in that +1 every four years. 

Let me give you a for instance:  if you were a member of George Washington's inner circle & you said "let's take the old man out & toast him on his birthday", you would go out on what day?  Let me make this easy for you: even Wikipedia cannot say for sure.  The date cannot even be specified to a particular year NOT because no one wrote down when young George arrived, but because the Gregorian Calendar has undergone some remodeling since 173X.  What we can say for-sure, to the degree that any of this is for-sure, is he was born in February, but day (the 11th or the 21st) & year (1731 or 1732) are up for grabs.  The US observes the day on the 3rd Monday in February (a day that will NEVER have the date of either the 11th or the 21st), except in Indiana where they observed it after Thanksgiving but before the end of December.  This means if somehow through some strange confluence of whatever, the calendar of Indiana becomes the calendar of the US, we will be celebrating the birth of the father of our country right around the Winter Solstice.  Why does this sounds so familiar?

It isn't much better for Jefferson Davis, the father of the Confederacy.  Last year, his birthday was observed three days apart in adjacent states.  One state always observes on the day itself, another chooses the Monday or Friday before or after to make a long week-end.  Still another pushes it back to the previous month to lump it on with another nationally observed holiday.

Well, that's all well & good , you might say, but George Washington was a person.  We made this holiday out of respect, it isn't a religious holiday.  & they are right.  Where this argument falls apart is that International Star Wars Day IS associated with a religion.  According to the 2001 census, more than a quarter million citizens of the UK identified their religion as Jedi.  Yes, this is only .75% of the population, but when you consider how many Pilgrims it took to land on Plymouth Rock (or not, because you don't actually believe the rock called Plymouth Rock...maybe you do, whatever) & take over the world, 390K does not seem like too few.  More recently Jedi have successfully lobbied that their adopted costume (specifically the cloak worn with the hood up) not be a reason for them to be banned from public spaces; I had no idea that Jedi did not go about with their heads uncovered & I could be wrong but I don't think George Lucas knew it either.

If this is all sounds like a great big joke to you, these people are pranksters, misfits & they just want attention let me ask you to take a good long hard look at....Scientology.  Given a choice, I would rather share the planet with Jedi.  Happy Star Wars Day everyone.  May you not be the driods they were looking for.

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