They are not really given any religious holiday breaks during the year. No particular day is set aside for overeating and gift giving – the only ones gazetted areglued to some form of organised belief. If they want a day off they are expected to give heed to the Christian church or the Jewish Church. In this respect they share the same position as followers of the Turk church, the Indian church, the Chinese church, or the Japanese church…these worshippers have the undoubted moral benefit of strict separation of church and state but they lose pay doing their own festivals.
Okay, everyone likes a good holiday – particularly if there is going to be special food and drink and a chance to meet up. Business likes a good holiday that encourages gifts. Deists need a special one of their own.
Someone has suggested that Deists use the 4th of July or the 24th of November as their especial day – given that there are links to famous Deists or religious people on these days. A kindly thought, but it does rather piggyback on the US’s national civil day and upon the US date for Thanksgiving. People are busy enough with those and they can eat and drink themselves into a stupor anyway.
We need a different day – one that has no miracles or supernatural goings-on to rivet the masses, while offering some cheer and a chance to feel grateful for the lives we lead. One could give consideration to having a party on:
a. January 17th – Benjamin Franklin’s birthday
b. February 9th – Thomas Paine’s birthday
If you go for the first one it can be subtitled ” Poor Richard’s Day ” in honour of his famous almanac. If Tom Paine gets the nod you can have the ” Day Of Reason “. This is a little more confronting than Ben’s birthday but the revelers can still eat and drink to the memory of a great man – and give thanks in their hearts for the goodness of the world.
Of course, we could also apply the old Quaker idea that specific religious holidays are not observed because every day is a holy day. Presumably this would then suggest the thought that there are no holy cities or holy lands because all municipalities and locations are holy. I wish I had this breadth of vision – I’ve seen part of our outer suburbs in Perth that would need several coats of sealer and a rub-down before anybody would think of applying a layer of holiness to them. Even then I reckon it would bubble and peel.
As it is, I think in Western Australia we shall declare the third Saturday in August, the 20th in 2017, as our ” Poor Richard’s Day “. It falls in a cold and wet part of the year and needs a bit of cheerfulness. This will be engendered with a dinner at The Little Studio and invited guests may bring presents for themselves or others. Drinks will be served.
No one will be expected to pray – or prey, for that matter – and a feast of reason with a little foolishness will be as good a way to remember two fine philosophers as any. No pilgrimage, miracle, religious relic or symbol, or sacrifice will be required.
I am looking forward to it.