Better Holidays

I’m sure that many other people have noticed that stores are offering a lot more items with a Halloween theme these days, and that there are already Christmas themed items available on shelves. The Christmas stuff in particular seems a bit nuts, since it started appearing more than two months before Christmas.

However, I am not now going to complain about the ongoing commercialization of what was once a more contemplative holiday. In general, buying and selling is good for the economy, so using holidays to encourage people to spend money is by and large a good thing. (Assuming, of course, that people are also saving for their old age, which they are not, but that is a problem which the U.S. will have to deal with in some other way.)

The problems I see are 1) there aren’t enough holidays associated with buying things, and 2) many of the Christmas items tend to be useless junk, the consumption of which uses up natural resources and landfill space. So what we need to do is associate the transfer of money with more holidays, without encouraging people to buy junk. That means that we need to encourage everybody to buy services. Services are in any case a better economic stimulus, as all the money stays in the local area, and is generally quickly spent again by the service provider.

I think the most obvious existing holidays which could use some commercialization in the U.S. are Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Labor Day is early for harvest, but we could associate it with buying local farm produce. The idea would be something like “have a local food feast–invite friends, co-workers, neighbors.” That would keep most of the money in the local area, and encourage local food production, which is generally a good thing since it is requires fewer resources. Of course Thanksgiving could also focus on local food, but despite being a harvest festival it is generally too late in the year, and it is already associated with specific foods which would be hard to change.

Memorial Day is already associated with the military, picnics, and barbecues. I’m not seeing much there. Maybe the theme could be preparation for summer. It could be a time to repaint the house or have a garage sale. Or maybe join a gym, change your haircut, get a manicure. Of course volunteering is also good, though it doesn’t lead to much in the way of transferring money. OK, I’m reaching. Perhaps somebody can figure something out here.

In general I think this could be a good approach to use our love of holidays, and buying things, to help the economy in a tangible way.

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