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A Case for Celebrating the Fourth of July on the Fifth

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A Case for Celebrating the Fourth of July on the Fifth

Check out this great article written for Southern Living Magazine by our very own Zoe Denenberg (Dorm 2012) reflecting on her years at camp celebrating the 4th of July on the 5th! A camp tradition!
Click here for the original article.

You know the feeling. It’s the day after a big holiday. You venture to the kitchen only to find the countertop strewn with crumpled-up napkins. The sink is overflowing with empty casserole dishes. Suddenly you’re hit with that inexplicable, gut-sinking feeling: the post-holiday blues.

Growing up, my Fourth of July looked a bit different than most. I spent every summer at a sleepaway camp, where we seemed to celebrate a new holiday each week. Mondays were “Manic Mondays,” where the older age groups would parade down the grassy knoll in wacky, mismatched costumes. We celebrated College T-Shirt Day and Canadian Kit-Kat Day, holidays surely dreamed up by the camp’s creative owner. But everyone’s favorite day was always July Fourth on the Fifth.

Nobody knows just quite how the tradition started. (Rumor has it that the camp director postponed the holiday because fireworks are half-price the day after the Fourth. But this theory has never been confirmed.) No matter how the strange practice began, campers and counselors faithfully continued to dress up in red, white, and blue garb on the Fifth of July, year after year.

The holiday may have come a day late, but we still celebrated in full force. We pledged allegiance during breakfast in the mess hall and wore bandannas, face paint, temporary flag tattoos, and just about every patriotic accessory you could dream of as we rotated through our scheduled activities.

At night, we returned to the lake for the highly-anticipated annual evening activity. We celebrated the Fifth of July with a lake-side cookout, complete with a counselor waterski show and a fantastic fireworks display. There were popsicles and snow cones and shoulders draped in American flags. We spent the Fifth of July together, the whole camp marveling at the reds and blues bursting over the lake in our own personal firework show.

Now, I celebrate the Fourth of July. But for me, the Fifth of July always holds something nostalgic. The Fifth of July was something special, a holiday belonging solely to my childhood camp community. My memories attached to July Fifth help ward away the familiar feeling of loss that the day after a holiday can bring.

I’m not suggesting that you completely postpone your Fourth of July plans to the Fifth (unless you’re in the market for discounted fireworks). But I do suggest that you use July Fifth to create your own unique tradition, a small activity or gesture that you can pass down in your family or community. Creating new traditions reminds that every day holds something to celebrate– whether it’s silly, like Canadian Kit-Kats, or major, like our country’s independence. The world needs more holidays, small and big.

So this year, light your sparklers on the Fourth of July. Fire up the grill and spend the night surrounded by friends and family. But find something special to celebrate on the Fifth, too.

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