Oddball Holidays

Five state holidays you may not know

by Elissa Haney

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Do you have Casimir Pulaski Day off? Kids in Illinois do. Many states observe legal holidays that are specific to their history or culture and don't exist anywhere else. Here is a sampling of some of the more obscure state holidays.

Casimir Pulaski Day

On the first Monday in March, kids in Illinois get a day off from school in honor of a man who never set foot in the American Midwest.

Casimir Pulaski (1748?-1779) was a Polish native who became a war hero in two countries. In Poland, he was a leader in the effort to defend his nation against Russian forces in the 1760s and 1770s. When the defense ultimately failed to prevent the partition of Poland, Pulaski fled his country. He was eventually recruited by Benjamin Franklin to help fight against the British for American independence.

Pulaski's achievements during the American Revolution, as chief of cavalry and while heading an independent legion, are recognized in Illinois each year on the first Monday of March. Illinois is home to just under one tenth of the Polish-American population.

Patriots' Day

Patriots' Day, another tribute to the American Revolution, belongs to Maine and Massachusetts alone. The holiday commemorates the famous battles of Lexington and Concord.

It was on April 19, 1775, that Massachusetts minutemen, taking the cue from Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, took a stand against 700 British troops marching to Concord to raid a colonial weapons stockpile. As the militia was retreating, someone fired a weapon. This "shot heard 'round the world" marked the beginning of the American Revolution.

Patriots' Day is observed annually on the third Monday in April, with many companies allowing employees to take the day off. In addition to community celebrations, the holiday is marked by the running of the Boston Marathon.