The debate about extending retailing on public holidays keeps popping up, almost as often as there's a Briscoes sale. Retailers want the option to trade any hour on any day. For our benefit, the consumer, of course. How many times have you been stranded at home on a public holiday and thought, I wish I could buy a lounge suite, or a laptop, or a latte, but I've got to wait until tomorrow? Public holidays get in the way.

Labour Day was to honour the reduced working week. Really? Someone must have not got that memo. Retailers want to be modern day Arkwrights, open all hours. The significance of the eight-hour day is lost with the junk mailers chocking my letterbox with discounts and deals.

There's been a push to rid society of religion interfering with our lives, from the classroom to the bedroom. As a society, we've rejected Christian notions of what's appropriate. So why keep religious holy-days which many people don't identify with anyway?

Christmas has been on the way out for years. Many families find it too tiring, too stressful and too commercial. We've already got rid of the "Christ" and replaced it with an "X". Now it's time to make the whole event an ex. Of course, Boxing Day follows. What's with the boxes anyway?


Good Friday and Easter Monday would also have to go. Play word recognition with "Easter" and you're more likely to get "egg" or "chocolate" or "bunny". The crucifix has been replaced with a hot cross bun. Kill this long weekend.

Why is New Year's Day a holiday? What about January 2, imaginatively called the Day after New Year's Day? Who needs a holiday or an excuse to stay up until midnight and a have a few drinks? Besides, how can we expect to compete in a global economy if the very first couple of days of the new year, half the nation is on holiday and the other half is hungover?

Then there's that colonial hangover, Queen's Birthday. It's so last century. This day should be de-throned as we move towards becoming a republic. Firstly, her majesty's birthday is in April. Secondly, what real power has she got as the Head of State? We can't even agree on our greatest squash player being the Governor-General. Thirdly, can you really imagine Elizabeth's son as our next king? What a right royal Charlie.

Anzac Day is a celebration of what? How badly we did in a battle. The war to end all wars. Yeah right. It's on a par with celebrating Guy Fawkes who was a failure. Anzac Day is a fizzer. No one's left alive from that error, or rather, era. The defeat of our soldiers in this battle is so deeply ingrained in the Kiwi psyche that it is replayed every Anzac rugby league test with the Australians. Yes, we again come off second best.

Provincial holidays are a mixed bag. Those of us who live in what our Super City council hopes may become "the most liveable city in the world" celebrate the birth of Auckland by escaping it. Albeit slowly. There's an annual TV news story with an aerial shot of a city of snails, a Jafa jam on the holiday highways.

Finally, Waitangi Day. This was left to last because, frankly, no one seems to know what to do with it. The early settlers and Maori did a deal about how to get on with each other. But something got lost in translation. These days, while politicians and protesters play mix and mingle on a marae, most Kiwis do what we do well. We head to the beach - so we can all turn, um, browner. And while the foreshore is still accessible.

Holidays with meaning? Give me a break.

Gene Nicolson tutors employment skills in Warkworth.