Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Independence Day

I was about to post on Facebook: 'Happy July Fourth'. I figured I may as well use the proper name, though, so then I typed 'Happy Independence Day'. I thought this sounded strange, in fact I don't think I've said 'Happy Independence Day' before.

I'm not aware of any other holiday that we colloquially refer to by its calendar date.

Towards the end of last year, when the holly and the ivy decorated our family's banister, I didn't wish everyone a Happy 25th of December. A month prior to that, while gathered around the dinner table, I didn't wish anyone a Happy Fourth Thursday of November.

I don't know the origins of the 'July Fourth' usage, but I'd suggest that 'July Fourth' describes the celebrations of the day, the whole package (hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks and the like).

'Independence Day' names the reason for those celebrations.

If you told a young child "We are celebrating July 4th," they may accept that that's just what you do on this calendar day.

If you told them "We are celebrating Independence Day," then not only have they gained more information, but they will hopefully have reason to ask a follow up question.


UPDATED 07/05/11: I revised this a bit for tone. My intent is more observation and less proscriptive, so I tried to lean more in that direction.