Federal Holidays Deserve More Recognition

Grace Ryan, News Editor

For the majority of high schoolers, the most appreciated holidays are Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with the rest of the holidays during the year only remembered—or sometimes not even remembered—for the day off. Among religious holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the fall has numerous nonsecular holidays including Labor Day, Indigeneous People’s Day and Veterans Day. Although these holidays have days off of school while Halloween does not, Halloween receives more recognition and celebration in the lives of high school students. 

All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 and Day of the Dead celebrated by those of Mexican heritage celebrated from Nov. 1-2 are both around the Halloween season; however, high school students do not celebrate these other holidays—at least outside of school. The majority do not celebrate Halloween for more than decorations, costumes and candy. Although Halloween can be a fun holiday for children with trick or treating and decorations, high school students largely transform Halloween to be only about the costumes and parties. Halloween has little historical or memorial significance and steals recognition away from the more deserving holidays that have more significance. 

Halloween is not a federal holiday in the United States, but many under-appreciated holidays are federal holidays with days off from work and school. High school students must begin to take recognition for federal holidays and not just use them for the day off. High school students do not need to take much action in order to celebrate a federal holiday because they can research to learn more about the topic, take a moment for those who may have benefited or sacrificed for the holiday’s events or participate in a movement or celebration of the holiday. For example, there are many ways to celebrate Veterans Day. Many people know a veteran and could send them a message or take a moment to remember their service. Also, anyone could take a few minutes to make gratitude cards for veterans. Just a few minutes to remember why the day was made a federal holiday in the first place is enough. 

Federal holidays also continue through the rest of the year with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day and Juneteenth. All of these holidays are granted a day off for remembrance, but little remembrance occurs. While in school, classes may cover the history behind Martin Luther King Jr. or Juneteenth throughout both elementary and secondary schools, but during the day off few high schoolers actually take time to understand and remember those involved in the holiday. For example, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the day should not go by without at least thinking about what Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on how we live today. On the contrary, Valentine’s Day, which is not a federal holiday, receives more recognition and celebration. 

High school students should reconsider the unequal distribution of recognition between federal holidays and other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, to give attention to the reasons for the day off.