Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Confederate Memorial Day Surprises Newcomers to the South

If you're a transplant from parts north you might find it surprising that the Carolina's have a Confederate Memorial Day.

In the past it's not been a holiday that the local Ford dealer embraces to offer up local television ads that scream "These Confederate Memorial Day Deals are GOING FAST!"

Rather, it is mostly a quiet day that passes without much fan fair.

But leave it to one of South Carolina's elected officials to create controversy where none existed. Senator Robert Ford who just happens to be black has proposed a bill that would require both the M. L. King Holiday and Confederate Memorial Day become paid holidays for state and local government employees. More About Sen. Ford's Bill at the Post and Courier.

Confederate Memorial Day has been a state holiday in North and South Carolina that falls on May 10th for 140 some years, it coincides with Stonewall Jackson's death and the capture of CSA President Jefferson Davis.

In the Carolina's we have Ramp, Gulla, Watermelon and Shag festivals and a host of other days, weeks and months that mark our history and celebrate our culture, so it should come as no surprise that we have a day that remembers the Grand Army of the Republic's losses.

Yet a small vocal minority are "outraged" that we have such a state holiday, and I suspect if won't be long before some of them call for a boycott unless the day is removed from the state calendar.

Regional differences are common in our country, Washington's Birthday is the Federal Holiday, while President's day which honors Washington and Lincoln is a holiday in both North and South Carolina that it is largely overlooked in the rest of the South.

In the Southwest the King Holiday is over shadowed by Cinco de Mayo and other Latin holidays.

If you visit New York and Boston on St. Patrick's Day you'll find that city services come to a halt, while here in the South only Savannah embraces the patron saint of Ireland with closing of public offices and a parade on his birthday held on his birthday rather than the nearest Saturday.

In our country we have four true holiday's Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving and Independence Day. In an effort to increase down time our Federal Government added the Monday Holiday's of Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

Easter weekend is for most a three day weekend, and for many a four day weekend even though Easter is neither a state or federal holiday. Easter Monday is another wonderful Southern tradition. Easter Monday was a public holiday in North Carolina from 1935 to 1987, when the state switched to Good Friday as and official state holiday.

Just for the record here's the official South Carolina 2009 Holiday Schedule

New Year's Day
Thursday, January 1

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, January 19 (3rd Monday in January)

George Washington's Birthday / President's Day
Monday, February 16 (3rd Monday in February)

Confederate Memorial Day
Monday, May 11 (Observed)

National Memorial Day
Monday, May 25 (Last Monday in May)

Independence Day
Friday, July 3 (Observed)

Labor Day
Monday, September 7 (First Monday in September)

Veterans Day
Wednesday, November 11

Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, November 26 (Fourth Thursday in November)

Day after Thanksgiving Day
Friday, November 27 (Fourth Friday in November)

Christmas Day
Friday, December 25

Day after Christmas
Monday, December 28 (Observed)

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