Holidays in the US are quite interesting. On the one hand, the US believes itself to be (and therefore, one might say, is) quite religious. So when we went to church this morning there was standing room only. Literally. And while I was out driving the man on the rock 'n' roll music station I was listening to reminded me that today 'wasn't about Peter Cottontail. Sorry. It's about how Jesus Christ died for me'. I kid you not. I seriously expected someone to come in and drag him off the mic, but they didn't. So there ya go.
But this religiousness hits a wall when it comes to the consumer culture. I was out driving to drop Sasha at a meeting (on Easter, one might note!) and decided after I dropped her to go to the store. Which was open. And packed to the gills. Obviously there is a slight disconnect between the idea of the 'holiday' (holy day) and our modern concept of shopping as entertainment.
One of the things I noticed in France was that if one was forced to take a breath from consuming (as one was on Sundays and holidays), it allowed you to focus on other, more interesting things. It also, as I have noted before, provided a reference point, allowing you to say 'today is not a regular day' - it gave the weeks a rhythm. Of course, it also lowers GDP (an aggregate measure of things bought and sold). So when everyone talks about Europe's lower growth rate, I take it with a grain of salt - they refer not only to outdated economic policies, but also to things we in the states might wish we had - like free time.