Happy New Year!

NEW YEAR'S DAY is a federal holiday on which people make New Year's resolutions. By so doing they raise a benign hope they won't repeat last year's mistakes. Mostly the mistakes are repeated, but as they say, it's the thought that counts. By and large, holidays are a good thing, even though they lack consistency and lose some of their original purpose. Technically the United States doesn't have ``national'' holidays, except in the District of Columbia, since the making and observance of holidays is reserved to the states. Generally the states don't complain much and let Washington go ahead, except in a few cases when states think they are getting pushed around.

New Year's Day, being nonreligious and nonpolitical, doesn't bother anyone. People are just glad to have a day to sleep off New Year's Eve. Except for Jews, Chinese, Muslims, and many others, it officially starts a new year. Whose new year doesn't seem to matter as long as everyone gets the day off. Labor Day also fits into the category of wholehearted acceptance. It is primarily to ensure a day of rest for the ``worker,'' but all the bosses take it off as well, just to show no discrimination.

Then there is Columbus Day, which slightly annoys those strict and literal history buffs. They readily agree that Columbus discovered Watlings Island, or whatever, but it was that Italian, sailing for England, John Cabot, who actually found the American mainland first. The indomitable Norsemen notwithstanding, Columbus was probably the greatest navigator the world has known, so we might as well keep the holiday.

Many states assert their own holidays. Missouri has its Harry S. Truman Day, Alabama celebrates Thomas Jefferson, but as far as I know, North Carolina doesn't have a day for James Polk. New York doesn't take notice of Martin Van Buren, either, but there is a sort of celebration on Verrazano Day, April 7. Giovanni da Verrazano discovered that big bridge across the narrows of Lower Bay going to Staten Island.

The solution for national holidays might be for them to come at certain, regularly appointed intervals and simply be called ``Days Off.'' Except for New Year's Day. It's nice to say ``Happy New Year.''

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