Friday, May 28, 2004

memorial day ... why always on a monday?

another long weekend ... monday (may 31) is memorial day here in the US - and a holiday for almost everyone. when i was new to the US, i used to wonder why the holidays are always on a monday - turns out it was made that way by president Nixon in 1971 - in addition, several holidays were changed to fall on the specific mondays (e.g labor day on the first weekend of september and so on... ). july 4 is however still on july 4. imagine a situation like that in india, if independence day were to be celebrated on say, the third monday of august (to ensure a long weekend) - we might have to observe a holiday on august 14 (pakistani independence day) from time to time ....

but seriously, could this policy be followed with regard to other indian holidays - i dont think so, simply because a) holidays mostly fall by the lunar calendar. so its not even guarenteed that they will always be in the same month as the previous year; b) most of them are religious, whats the point in celebrating diwali the following weekend or the previous weekend. almost like saying lets have christmas on dec 23, because its a monday :). but there certainly seems merit to consider that on non-religious holidays - birthdays of leaders for example - gandhi, nehru, ambedkar, the list goes on ... come to think of it, how many holidays are there for an average indian company? that is a totally different topic, lets not digress there ....

coming back to memorial day, i wondered about its history - did a bit of googling, and here is what i found: To quote from the History Channel
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30,1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.
There seems to be a debate as to where the custom of observing memorial day began, with several places - Columbus, MS; Macon GA; Boalsburg, PA etc.

either way, monday is a holiday ... and i am looking forward to a time-out ... :)

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