It’s New Year’s Day. Let me wish you health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year, zdrowia szczescia i pomyslnosci w Nowym Roku! (Thanks KH.) We ended 2014 with a light dusting of snow in Tucson, something that rarely happens. It will be gone by afternoon, but you know what felt more out-of-place than the snow? There was no need for the nagging reminder in the back of my mind. “Tomorrow’s a holiday. Do we need anything from the store? Better get it today!” Holidays in Poland are like stepping back into the past for me. Stores and businesses are closed. People spend time with their families. Americans have much to learn about observing holidays from the Polish.
It’s not that we’re totally unfamiliar with the idea, but remembering a time when businesses were closed on Sundays and holidays dates one, kind of like remembering the assassination of JFK. We can add it to the list of cultural knowledge (or lack thereof) for a given year’s incoming college freshmen:
- bottle caps have always been screw-off and plastic
- they have never used a floppy disk
- their lifetime has always included AIDS, cable TV, and stores being open on holidays
It’s not that I’m anti-business, not by a long shot, but so often, it makes no economic sense. Last year, our daughter was the assistant manager of a small store in the mall (galleria, for my Polish friends). She had the first shift on New Years Day. By the end of her shift the store had rung up $20 in sales, but if her store hadn’t been open, they would have been fined by the mall. It’s part of the lease agreement. This year, a different job, but she’s still off to work.
Somethings tend to be cyclical. Let’s hope our desire for commerce 24/7 at the expense of observing holidays goes the way of American infatuation with preservatives and artificial ingredients. You can’t be efficient and productive all the time. People need rest. We need to make time for observing holidays and reflecting.
There are some things in Poland that would benefit from a little Americanization, but it’s isn’t one. Are you listening, Poland? Don’t copy us on this one; holiday comes from holy day.
P.S. Thanks to my friend, Pat Adams, for sharing her beautiful photo of our New Year’s snow.