Tuesday, January 27, 2009
National Day of Norsemanship
It is a strange time of year. This leg of winter is always a haul. The holiday spirits sag, the only other holiday in sight with even the slightest bit of fun factor is Super Sunday, which is not really a holiday or even a sporting event so much as a marketing extravaganza. I've always found it the most American of all of our national holidays in this way. For MLK Day we all summon our better angels for a few minutes in the car if the radio happens to replay the "I Have a Dream" speech. At least if you're a person of paleness. I've never once had a white guy say to me, "Happy Martin Luther King Day" or "Keep the Dream". It's probably a very different experience in African American communities, but I live in Vermont. I wouldn't know about that.
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day...let's admit it; for most Americans these represent three day weekends. We might hang out a flag here and there. Get misty-eyed during the closing credits of a rerun of The Fighting Seabees on TMC, but mostly we barbecue and take care of our yards. It's not that we shouldn't care more. We just don't. (Note to indignant readers: I'm making a cultural observation here not a scientific one. Plenty of people care deeply about the meaning of these holidays. Just not most people.)
Super Bowl Sunday, on the other hand, is made for the Anglo-Saxon race which has been, and for at least the next few weeks, will be the dominant influence on American culture. Super Sunday is all about violence and consumption. This is what the Norsemen were all about too: pillage, grab some women, pop the top on the local food stores, and kick back. This sounds an awful lot like the 4/4 broadcast beat of the Super Bowl -- 1) Shot of play action including grunts and flying spit. 2) Cut to cheerleaders, then scan the crowd for loonies and hotties. 3) Go to commercial for pillage. 4) Repeat. All of the same glands are firing which motivated the vikings (not the NFL team) as they sacked ancient London. By the end of the day we're likely to be wearing horns or cheese on our heads. For those of northern European descent this is as close to a day of ancestral observance as we get.
For the rest of us there is always the Sacred Riddle. This year it is XLIII. Any ideas?