August Doesn’t Get Any Respect
An earnest discussion about our eighth month’s lack of holidays
By Ed Goldman
August, which is booked to start on Sunday, contains barely any U.S. holidays (Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, does begin at sundown on August 9, however).
Even so, it seems mildly surprising that a majority of Americans will take their summer vacations this coming month.
Dead and Breakfast
I say “surprising” because one of our great American traditions is trying to lengthen our hiatuses by jamming them next to established holidays, like Memorial Day, Juneteenth (as of this year), July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the regrettably hybrid Presidents Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Every four years, federal employees don’t need to show up for work on Inauguration Day, but who wants to go on an extended vacation in mid-January?
I’m sure we’d add other holidays to the nation’s leisure roster if we could. But Earth Day isn’t a government-sanctioned day off, even though it already has an official shoe (the Birkenstock sandal, which looks ugly even on a mannequin’s foot).
And the following, which have been proposed as federal holidays, still aren’t: Susan B. Anthony Day, Malcolm X Day, Cesar Chavez Day, Flag Day, Native Americans’ Day, and even Election Day.
All well and good. But not a single one of the approved or suggested holidays falls in August. This is unfortunate. It’s not as though we don’t have some noted Americans to memorialize and, therefore, cash in on by lining up a few extra days off to coincide with their birthdays.
For example, both Louis and Neil Armstrong were born in August (they weren’t related, of course — but both men took us to new heights, musically and, uh, astronautically).
And how about these important women in our culture: Lucille Ball, Julia Child and Annie Oakley? All were August arrivals. Comedian Lucy made us laugh, chef Julia made us eat and sharpshooter Annie made us duck. (Actually, Julia also might have made us duck, probably with a velvety orange sauce.)
Even though he was a native Brit, the great film director Alfred Hitchcock, also born this month, became a U.S. citizen in 1955. Apparently, no one was sure until the last moment that he was going to do it; however, I’m not sure that’s why he’s hailed as The Master of Suspense.
If nothing else, I think we can create our own birthday holiday for Ball, Child, Oakley and Hitchcock. We’ll call it August Babies Day, and celebrations would include, respectively: wine grape stomping (Lucy’s most famous comedy skit); French cooking (Julia’s specialty); and skeet shooting (Annie’s métier).
Maybe the holiday could then wrap up by having everyone spend a night at Hitchcock’s legendary Bates Motel. I’d avoid showering.