Thursday, September 24, 2009

Small Town Quirks

I recently came across an interesting bit of trivia about Williams Lake, a small community in British Columbia. Since the late 1930s, townsfolk have celebrated Wrestling Day. No, not calf wrestling or mud wrestling. This was an official holiday that fell on January 2, the day after New Years.

Wrestling Day was started by two businessmen who noticed they weren’t getting any business that day—possibly due to cold winter weather or maybe because local residents were still recovering from the holidays—so they closed up shop and took an extra day off themselves. Besides, if Christmas could have Boxing Day, then surely News Years deserved a day, too.

The idea caught on. In 1942 the village council declared Wrestling Day an official holiday, and in 1959 a bylaw was passed, making if official.

For almost twenty years, local businesses remained closed that day but in 1976, the bylaw was struck down. Williams Lake had grown from a village to a town to a city, which meant more business and more businesses. And those businesses wanted to do business, even on Wrestling Day.

From my perspective—as someone who thinks there aren’t nearly enough holidays!—I think it’s unfortunate that Williams Lake no longer recognizes Wrestling Day as an official holiday, although I understand that some businesses do remain closed in honor of the old tradition.

What do you think? Should more communities have special holidays? Do you know of a town like Williams Lake that has its own quirky holiday?

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life


Linda Henderson said...

I come from a small town originally and we didn't have any special holidays where everyone closed up shop. I think if you are a small town and you want to have a special day, go for it.

Leigh Duncan said...

Remember Blue Laws? I grew up in Florida where stores were open seven days a week. But we'd visit relatives in the Boston area every summer. It surprised me that nothing was open there on Sundays. Convenience stores could sell milk and bread, and nothing else. Dress shops, book stores, pretty much everything was shut down. Truckers weren't allowed to drive their rigs on the highways. Do Blue Laws still exist?

PamStone said...

I too remember Blue Laws, but they haven't been in existance in years in Texas. My grandparents lived in a small town in Texas. I do remember a special one time holiday when they won the football championship.

Lee McKenzie said...

I agree, Linda! I don't live in a small town, though, and I'm so accustomed to running out when I need something. Having everything closed for a day would likely be a bit of a bit of a shock!

Lee McKenzie said...

Leigh and Pam, I definitely remember the days when nothing was open on Sunday. And banks were only open Monday to Friday, from maybe 10:00 to 3:00 -- during the hours when most people were at work!