May Day, Cinco de Mayo or Leap Day: Celebrating “minor” holidays

May Day is a day of dancing and maypoles, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the history and culture south of the border and Leap Day is always silly fun. Our happiness expert writes that no holiday is too small to celebrate as a family.

Nick Adams/The Register Mail/AP
May Day is a day maypole dances, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the history and culture south of our border and Leap Day is always silly fun. Our happiness expert writes that no holiday is too small to celebrate. Paul Cuba gets a little help Caisha Gayles, left, and Kylie Blickem, right, to celebrate his 21st Leap Year Day birthday on Feb. 24, 2012 in Galesburg, Ill.

One of my resolutions is to celebrate holiday breakfasts. However, I’ve realized, that resolution should actually be framed as a subset of more general resolution, something like "celebrate minor holidays" or "find occasions for festivity." Today is May Day, a festival that celebrates the changing of seasons with dancing and maypoles. This weekend, too, marks another "minor holiday:" Cinco de Mayo, a nationwide celebration of Mexican heritage, and an important Mexican defeat of French invading forces that influenced the course of the Civil War. (And who could forget the not-so-minor Mother's Day, which is just around the corner!)

In any event, I followed this resolution on Leap Day this year, and felt I might share our experiences with you. Perhaps you will be inspired to celebrate other small holidays.

This year, I’d been feeling oddly thrilled by the approach of Leap Day, but it hadn’t occurred to me to celebrate it, until I heard someone else’s plan.

At an event in Dallas a few weeks ago, a woman told me that she was taking her four kids out of school on February 29 for a day of fun. I was enchanted by this idea, but I’m too much of a Hermione to pull my daughters out of school. Instead, I picked them both up and swept them away for an afternoon of special adventures.

First, we went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium in Times Square. I figured that was an appropriate thing to do: Ripley’s celebrates the unusual and rare, and Leap Day is fun because it’s unusual and rare.

Then we went to Dylan’s Candy Bar (a giant candy store). My husband doesn’t enjoy that kind of thing, so my daughters hadn’t been there before, and if you like that sort of place—my daughters and I do—it’s tremendously fun. The girls spent a very long time making their candy choices.

Truth be told, as adventures go, this wasn’t very ambitious. We barely left our neighborhood, and the entire outing lasted less than three hours. Still, it felt special, like a “treat.” Also, I know myself; I have to keep my resolutions manageable, or I can’t keep them at all. One of my most important Secrets of Adulthood…Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

One of the main themes of my happiness project is memory. Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age. My shorthand for this worry is the days are long, but the years are short (of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people).

Celebrating minor holidays is one way to make time stand out. Because this day was unusual, it’s more memorable.

Another theme of my happiness project is light-heartedness. Instead of marching around checking things off my to-do list all the time, I want to take time for silliness, for fun, for adventures. Something like Leap Day is a good hook.

Related: Are you a Helicopter Parent? Take our quiz to find out!

Did you celebrate Leap Day? Do you do anything to celebrate other minor holidays?

* I’m a huge fan of Bob Sutton’s work, both his blog Work Matters and his terrific books. I was pleased to see that Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst has just come out in paperback.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogs at The Happiness Project.

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