This piece was an entry in Britain's New Statesman magazine's weekly competition.   The challenge was 'Some time ago, Michael Jacobs suggested in the NS that the UK needed some new...holidays - and even went so far as to suggest that a national competition should be held to decide what the "new days" should mark. Let us have an NS comp instead...'   This was my contribution, which won first prize.   The part about 'infamous criminals' may puzzle American readers.   It is a reference to Guy Fawkes Night, an annual celebration during which effigies of the famous traitor Fawkes are burned on bonfires.

British Understatement Day

British Understatement Day: A moveable snack, held on the first Last Quarter of the moon after the second Tuesday in October in alternate years, it marks the beginning of National Compromise Week, which lasts three days.   It is a day on which not very much will be celebrated, though never to excess.   Homes will be decorated with gray paper streamers.   A bonsai Norwegian fir, secreted in a remote corner, will be hung with gingerbread babies.   There will be a romantic element, with couples shaking hands under the mistletoe.   Families will travel halfway to the nearest tourist destination and then return home, reporting that “traffic wasn’t all that good”.   A half-telethon will be broadcast on BBC 2, with the intention of raising hundreds of pounds for quite good causes.   At night, people will gather around a smouldering twig, to eat English fudge and drink shandy, while infamous criminals from the past are admonished in effigy.   It is hoped that this new holiday will prove moderately popular.

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