Civic Café: Democracy Dinner: Federal Holidays and the National Story

November 29, 2022
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Stix House, 6470 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton, Missouri 63105

Dr. Vetta Sanders Thompson will join us for our Civic: Café: Democracy Dinner to discuss how federal and state holidays help build our national story.

In the U.S., the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is generally noted as “Holiday Season.” During this period, the U.S. government recognizes three federal holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The U.S. Congress mandates federal holidays, days on which non-essential federal government offices close and federal government employees are paid for the holiday. In addition, each state government designates additional state holidays and various ways to honor them, including with business closures and paid time off. 

Federal and state holidays contribute to national storytelling and identity building, signal governmental values, and affect the flow of every resident’s calendar. Earlier this year, the U.S government designated June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans on the anniversary of the 1865 date when emancipation was announced in Galveston, Texas. 

However, the current calendar of holidays does not reflect meaningful moments for many residents of the U.S.’s diverse democracy, and the existence of some holidays perpetuates tokenism and harm. This Democracy Dinner, situated in between Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays seeks to explore the following questions: 

How do the U.S.’s existing federal holidays reflect the country’s values and history? 

  • In a large and diverse democracy, what might be a better way to honor and celebrate the multitude of holidays observed by U.S. residents?  
  • How might holidays be an opportunity to revisit historical narratives? 
  • How can citizens and community members contribute to communal storytelling and identity building through holidays or other means? 

The Democracy Dinner will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Join fellow students and faculty experts for dinner and an open dialogue around government-recognized holidays and what they mean for pluralistic and diverse democracy. 

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Civic Cafe is a weekly event series that occurs every Tuesday evening at Stix House, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Each night will either be a Skill Building session, Democracy Dinner, or Civic Storytelling event. Students of every discipline are invited to attend. Learn, eat, and meet other civically-minded individuals.

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