Out of all the holidays on the calendar, from Christmas to Easter, Canada Day to Thanksgiving, is there a holiday celebrated in Ontario that is better than Family Day? I don’t think there is.
Look at it this way. Thanksgiving has the usual family obligations. The well-prepared meal, the turkey offered up for human sacrifice. Stuffing, veggies (maybe), and dessert.
Christmas has even more obligations and tribulations. Presents. Decorations. Multiple days of visits to family. Travel. More turkey sacrifices. And more pressure.
Holidays such as Canada Day mean fireworks and mosquito bites, and Easter has the bunny. Also the chocolate.
And some of the holidays like Christmas and Easter have their religious obligations for many. More and more however, holidays have become very commercial in nature. Don’t even get me started on Valentine’s Day.
Victoria Day was meant to commemorate Queen Victoria, but now is more of the unofficial start of summer, just as Labour Day marks the end of that season. The August “Civic” holiday is anything but straight forward. In Toronto, it’s called Simcoe Day. Ottawa calls it Colonel By Day, and in Nova Scotia it’s called Natal Day(?). Check with your local municipality to learn what name the holiday is called. Around here it’s always Tubie Weekend, but that is not the official name.
Do any of these days really sound like holidays though?
Behold Family Day. The February holiday. When it was first announced by then-premier Dalton McGuinty, it was dismissed by many as a stupid idea. I was one of them. Another paid day off, a burden for employers. Some said (including me) that the idea of stores being closed was a bad idea because what would people do with the day off? How would people be able to do activities with their families if everything was closed?
Looking back however, the idea of Family Day is kind of catchy. Here is a holiday with absolutely no commercial ties or obligations. There are no religious or cultural ties either. It is just a day off. One can spend the day in their pyjamas, or get dressed and go play outdoors. If you want to spend the day watching movies with your kids, you can. Don’t have kids, no worries. Go do what you want. Take the day off, everyone else is. You have no work obligations or school to worry about. Unless you work for the federal government since Family Day is a provincial holiday after all (although some federal workers get the day off too now).
Family day has become the Seinfeld of holidays, a day about nothing. That isn’t a bad thing. Taking time out to play a single day of hooky in this world is normally frowned upon, but why not have this day to do so?
So this February 18th, enjoy the day off. You have earned a day to do nothing. There are plenty of other holidays to worry about.