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   "Pork: The Other White Meat" Month in October--and other US "Calendar Items"


“Pork: The Other White Meat” Month in October—and other US “Calendar Items”

By Elena Juris

The local sports public is calling for Baltimore’s Ravens Stadium (formerly PSI Net Stadium) to be named John Unitas Memorial Stadium.
Who says we Americans don't have a rich history? As we look at the schedule of holidays coming up in Chase’s Calendar of Events, we see National Question Day, Auto Battery Safety Month, and even National Mosquito Awareness Weekend. All are among those vying for a scanty space of recognition amid our tightening national schedule. Other national awareness themes, such as National Cookie Month and National Pork Month, have had to 'share' a month after a fervent struggle.

Chase’s Calendar of Events is published annually, serving as the bible of holidays officially affecting every town, state and national public. From birth commemoratives to religious holidays to health awareness weeks, the concept of Chase’s mixes opportunities for the old and the new, the past and the intentional future, to be publicly and entertainingly observed. Unfortunately, lately it seems every major company and social cause has created an awareness month, week, weekend, or day—either for the purpose of highlighting pertinent issues or to generate sales with heightened media exposure.

Such is a phenomenon in a country founded on ideology rather than a feudal history. Rather than having thousands of years of activity to commemorate, the exciting responsibility of weaving our own story rests on our shoulders. Consciously developing our landmarks and milestones, our chance to choose that which we will commemorate in advance represents an incredibly unique opportunity—while also risking superficial deviation. Have we chosen wisely?

Perhaps the arbitrariness of holidays has simply spun out of control.

I took the liberty of quoting the official

Chase directory's synopsis of National Pork Month, which resides in October: “The National Pork Producers Council, in cooperation with state pork producers associations, marks October as National Pork Month. While pork promotions are conducted throughout the year, special emphasis is placed on Pork: The Other White Meat during October.”

Caught up in the convenience of freely assigning holidays, we Americans are not paying attention to the growing presence of registered and trademark signs in our national history. This short-sighted behavior may serve its purpose for now, but we risk cheapening our national calendar as we crowd it with sellable holidays.

One cannot accuse Chase’s for doing anything but following through with a catchy idea; nor can one doubt its selectivity in choosing among the thousands of pulpy holiday recommendations it surely receives every year. Perhaps the very nature of our society, driven so strongly by corporate fuel, is in fact revealed in our choice of national holidays.

Can we close our national calendar, or is it testament to our popular path of development? Indeed it perhaps we all need to pay more attention to where we’re going.

Elena Juris resides in Northwest Baltimore.

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Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on October 2, 2002.
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