Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fun Massachusetts Holidays You Can Celebrate. Next Year, Anyway

Monday was Patriots' Day, or rather its observed version in Massachusetts, as well as Maine and, for schools, Wisconsin. The third Monday in April is the designated date, although this year the official holiday coincided with the actual anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

This highly appropriate holiday nevertheless pales in comparison to my favorite regional holiday of all: Evacuation Day. This commemorates the day the British army left Boston in 1776, having been forced to withdraw by the infant Continental Army. In what is perhaps an early example of delayed-action demolition, the British chose to depart on a day of great significance to a people that would become, having been driven from their land by a famine exacerbated by British policy, a large proportion of the City of Boston: March 17, otherwise known as St. Patrick's Day. Coincidence? I think not.

March 17 is a holiday in Suffolk County, which includes Boston. I distinctly remember walking past The Black Rose on my way to work (kitty-o'shea-corner from that pub, as it happened) and seeing the interior packed with city and county employees. That was on the way TO work, mind you.

New York City had its own Evacuation Day, "celebrated with much adult revelry and corresponding beverages," until before World War I, when the Royal Navy finally stopped impressing Americans on the high seas US-UK relations began thawing permanently. However, anyone who has lived in Boston could tell you that the Special Relationship never made it to Southie.

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