Holidays Under Fire: The Battle Over American Holidays & Historical Memory

Fifty and Better Fall Session

Holidays Under Fire: The Battle Over American Holidays & Historical Memory

Protest and public outcry over national holidays have become commonplace in contemporary American society. Yet public outcry, both for and against specific holidays, is not new. All holidays are inventions or constructions and those that become national holidays are inherently political. The constructed nature of holidays means that all holidays have a unique history. Examining the history of a society’s holidays reveals much about its values, character and development. This course will explore the historical development of seven key American holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Chanukah. By studying these holidays, we will seek to understand more about the individual days themselves and nature of observance that has developed around them. We will seek to look deeper, moreover, and examine the historical forces that drove designation and celebration of these holidays and attempt to use them as lenses to better understand American society and culture.

Cliff Wilcox holds a PhD in American intellectual history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is director of education and operations at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, California. He focuses on American cultural and intellectual history and Jewish Studies.

Fifty and Better was designed to offer university-level courses (no tests, no homework) taught by experts in the field, and to host social engagement activities for individuals age 50 and older.

Cost is $35 for this six-week course.


Register by Friday, Sept. 3, at 3 p.m.

Sponsored By
Fifty and Better


Christina Tierney