Did you know Spain has 36 national holidays? Sure, its economy is in the tank and the country hasn't been relevant since the 1700s, but,hey, 36 days off is 36 days off. In America, we don’t even have a third of that number, with only 10 national holidays, most of which you only know about because your bank is closed.
So in true American fashion, we made up a bunch of other ones that involve buying stuff -- we’re looking at YOU Valentine’s Day -- and still don't give anyone the day off. But which ones are really cause for celebration? And which ones are just extra words on the calendar that mean about as much as National Pancake Week? We ranked the 16 biggest holidays of the year so you can figure out when to get excited.
You Throw This Fire Extinguisher Like a Hand Grenade
According to your Facebook newsfeed, a fair number of people take issue with honoring a guy who landed on an in inhabited island, told the world he found it, and proceeded to butcher people who lived there. That’s probably why the only people who get the day off are postal workers, and since the only things you get in the mail anymore are student loan bills and Little Caesar’s coupons, you’re not even going to notice.
15. President’s Day
Nothing says “America” like combining two holidays into one to make sure we work as many days as possible -- which is actually NOT what happened to the holiday that’s technically still known as Washington’s Birthday. That holiday was simply moved from February 22 to the third Monday in February, to give everyone a three day weekend. It also happens to fall just before Lincoln’s birthday, which is why people think we got robbed of a day off. Either way, most of us aren’t getting either day off, so really, what’s the point in complaining?
14. Valentine’s Day
For an attached guy, this is a no-win holiday; no matter what you plan, it will never, EVER live up to the expectations that jewelry/flower/chocolate companies set. That nice dinner that cost half your paycheck won't mean much if there’s no little box at the end of it. However, the story is different if you’re single. Then the bars are more like shooting galleries where all the targets are beach balls, if you catch our drift.
13. Veterans Day
This really oughta be renamed “Free stuff for Veterans Day” because the only people getting any kind of benefit on Nov. 11th are the actual veterans who businesses honor by giving out free meals, drinks, and scuba diving lessons. Which is all well and good if you’re a veteran -- provided your civilian boss gives you the day off. Most don’t, rendering this holiday pretty useless, save for vets who are willing to get up extra early for that pre-work free Grand Slam at Denny’s. YOU’RE WELCOME FOR OUR SERVICE!
Before Chuck D writes a song called “By the time I get to Thrillist”, we’re not saying MLK didn’t do great work. He did. We’re just saying that aside from public schools and government offices, nobody’s getting a day to reflect on the life of Dr. King, or really to do anything. It's just a day lost in the dead of January, and one that makes you realize even football season is almost over. The only benefit you’ve gotten out of MLK day since high school was probably an extra day to sleep in before Spring semester started. We can do better.
11. Father’s Day
This is a great holiday if you happen to be an avid tie collector, are a tie manufacturer, or have some otherwise-involved interest in men’s neckwear. Otherwise, it’s basically a great excuse to go to a baseball game, eat a steak, and generally do stuff with your dad you’d do anyway. Or, just leave the poor guy alone for the day so he can have some damn peace and quiet!
10. Mother’s Day
Rates higher than Father’s Day because A) There’s brunch involved, and B) Mom will actually pretend to like your gift.
9. New Years
There’s not a whole lot great about a holiday that’s usually freezing cold and requires going out three hours earlier than usual, then dealing with people who only drink once a year. And whoever decided you needed to kiss someone at midnight obviously never found himself standing next to an overly aggressive, recently-divorced post-cougar at 11:59pm. Also, please explain the fun in cramming 80 million people into a four-block area to... watch a ball drop?
For those in the Bible Belt, this might hold a higher place and greater significance. For everyone else, this is the other day of the year you have to get up and go to church. And when you were a kid, that unpleasantness was offset by a giant bunny giving you eggs -- which isn’t strange AT ALL. As an adult, it’s not so much the bunny that’s strange, but the family you spend the day with, making you eternally grateful for the champagne at Easter brunch.
7. Labor Day
Remember when you were a kid and your stomach dropped when September rolled around because you had to go back to school? BUT NOT YET! There’s still one more weekday you can sleep in and watch cartoons, then follow it with an awesome barbecue and time by some body of water. Now school starts in August, and much like finding a crumpled up Playboy under a park bench, kids today will never know the sheer joy associated with this last stand of Summer.
6. Memorial Day
Memorial Day has the same great barbecue and waterside fun as Labor Day, except for one big difference: it marks the BEGINNING of summer instead of the end. So it’s kinda like the first day of vacation for everyone, every year. Unless you live in Florida, in which case it’s, well, the first day of stifling humidity and daily thunderstorms.
5. St. Patrick’s Day
You never really learned the origin of this holiday, since every time you tried to figure it out, you were eight beers into the day and listening to someone at the bar say “Yeah… and, like, this guy, with these snakes… Who wants a car bomb??!!!!” It’s pretty irrelevant at this point because there’s an awesome parade, day-long drinking, and the novelty of green beer. And even though you don't technically get the day off, you'll probably take it anyway.
It’s the birthday of the greatest country in the history of civilization, so really it should top the list of every holiday in the world. Except you don’t get presents and the food’s nothing special, so, yeah, no. 4 it is. That said, you get all the flame-broiled goodness of the other summer holidays, plus the parties and fireworks of New Year’s without the freezing-cold weather and price-gouging restaurants.
When you were a kid it was all about the candy. And it still is, just a different kind.
Hard to argue with anything about Christmas, because even people who complain that it’s one religion’s holiday have no problem going to Christmas parties, eating Christmas dinners, listening to Christmas music and, oh yeah, getting Christmas presents. Aside from the Super Bowl, it’s really the only good part of winter, and might take the top spot if you didn’t have to deal with the trauma that is December at the mall.
If there’s one thing the world knows America for, it’s eating. And no day do we overeat with less shame than Thanksgiving, where we inexplicably eat “dinner” at 3pm and go into a food coma while watching the Detroit Lions lose for the rest of the afternoon. It’s also the one holiday where people open their homes to folks they barely know, showing that even though we’re overworked, stressed-out, and only get like six days off a year, we’re still thankful we don’t live in Spain.