It’s about this time of year that we often familiarise ourselves with the new calendar to see just when the public holidays fall. This is seldom done out of any particular reverence for the holiday in question. Take Australia Day for example. Apart from the announcement of the finalists for Australian Of The Year and a bunch of jingoistic merchandise, like Aussie flag stubbie holders in Coles and Woolies, there is no great sense of anticipation for what is supposedly our national day of celebration.
If anything the sense of dread from those who see the day as an insult to our indigenous peoples far outweighs the expectancy of the patriotic masses. Come Australia Day and that feeling of national pride will no doubt be whipped up by both the media and an expensive Government PR campaign, manifesting in ways both good and bad – from multicultural get-togethers to boozy hoons draped in Aussie flags.
The next day, and apart from half price Aussie flag stubbie holders in Coles, the flag flapping fury will quickly subside and we’ll all be back to our evil ways. That’s the way it often plays out with these one day of the year celebrations or acknowledgements. Whilst it’s the public holidays that resonate the most, the calendar is overflowing with a plethora of ‘days’ – from the deep and meaningful to the almost totally frivolous.
The more ‘legitimate’ of these world days are designated by the United Nations and include World Suicide Prevention Day, World Tsunami Awareness Day, World No-Tobacco Day and World Aids Day. Whilst they all draw our attention to important issues they often become just a footnote on the morning TV news and their sheer number tends to overwhelm the real significance of any single day.
Then, of course, there are those national and international days of observance and commemoration that attract widespread public support, spurred on by both commercial interests and an ingrained cultural psyche. When thousands of Elvis fans travel to Parkes each year it’s to celebrate the day when the fat old bastard (who would have been 84 this year), was originally born. The vinyl revival and a reaction against the downloading of music has prompted a recent addition in Record Store Day Australia in which around 200 stores across Australia combine to participate in what is now an international movement. And then of course, in case you have forgotten, there’s July 6 – International Kissing Day, sometimes referred to as ‘World Kiss Day’ – which obviously confuses the issue if you are a member of a certain face painting ‘army’.
In the often hideous and superficial click bait world in which we now live the proliferation of days dedicated to anything and everything is bound to get totally out of control. After all, there are only 365 opportunities in the year to fly the flag for some particular cause. The real likelihood is that days will have to be shared and more by random selection that any sense of design.
For example, World Kissing Day could soon fall on the same day as International Gingervitis Prevention Day and Halitosis Awareness Day. All three combined together could become quite a mouthful for any TV presenter wanting to highlight their significance (if you will forgive such a shocking pun).
Finally, I would like to advocate at least one day of the year, not devoted to any cause, celebration or historical observance. Not entirely a day of ‘nothing’ but one in which we would all be asked to halt for 30 minutes, put down our smartphones and ponder a conundrum – like “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it does it actually make a sound?” There would, of course, be no definitive answer, but at least we would not be dealing with the absurdity of World Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day or World Sword Swallowers Day!