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Joan Z. Shore


June: The Silly Season

Posted: 06/06/07 10:58 PM ET

In America, we sing that "June is bustin' out all over." The British -- more reserved -- simply say it's "the silly season." It gives them the option, one month out of twelve (and with Parliament conveniently in recess), to indulge in palace garden parties, Wimbledon, the Ascot races, the Henley regatta, and other genteel nonsense.

American silliness lasts all year 'round, and it's less genteel. It comprises NASCAR racing, mud wrestling, reality shows, late-night comedy shows, SUVs and Hummers, Super Bowl half-times, and super-size portions of food.

I would also include in this silly list: Casual Fridays, pre-holiday sales, million-dollar weddings and bar mitzvahs, adult video games, and massive silicone injections.

And national silliness can get downright serious: our use of electronic voting machines, our disdain for universal healthcare, our wasteful use of energy and natural resources, and our belief that every citizen has an inalienble right to bear arms.

(Waging wars in foreign lands, the latest craze from Washington, goes beyond silliness: it is stupid and arrogant.)

Like their British cousins, the French also manage to put all their silliness into one month -- May. May is riddled with no fewer than four national holidays: May Day, Memorial Day, Ascension, and Pentecost. When these fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, then Friday or Monday are also taken off to make a long four-day weekend. (This is called "making the bridge." It is a sacrosanct tradition, like spraying Champagne over a Grand Prix winner.)

If I were to pick one silly month for Americans, I think it would be February. First of all, it's my birthday. Secondly, it's the shortest month, so the silliness would be relatively limited. Thirdly, there are already three silly holidays in February: Groundhog's Day (need I say more?), President's Day (which has cruelly compressed the birthdays of our two finest presidents into one), and Valentine's Day (which arouses our primal feelings of guilt, anxiety, despair and hope).

We could throw a lot of other silly holidays into February: Labor Day (a misnomer -- nobody labors on that day), Election Day (which so many Americans pass up), and Halloween (the silliest celebration of all). Most religious holidays are too slippery to pin down and relocate (Easter and Passover, for example, are always changing) and I wouldn't dream of touching Thanksgiving or Christmas. But New Year's Day could use a little juggling. Putting it into February would give us some time to recover from the Christmas blowout.

Have I convinced you?

Good. Now I'm going to pack a picnic lunch, call some friends, and celebrate June bustin' out with a bottle of Champagne.