It’s still Christmas, until …

The final four for the 2014 Super Bowl.

The final four for the 2014 Super Bowl.

By Jim Tortolano E Pluribus Unum

If you live in most of the United States in this season of the polar vortex, you may think you are trapped in eternal winter.  For those who reside in Minnesota and the Dakotas, it may seem like there are really only two seasons: Winter and Non-Winter.

That idea of a two-season year isn’t far off, but it has nothing to do with climate or weather.  In the U.S. of A in 2013 our year starts not in January, but September. We do not have a winter, spring, summer and fall.

What we’ve got in the new American Cultural Year is just what I call Christmas and Not-Christmas.

This updated calendar starts the new year on the day after Labor Day.  That usually coincides (more or less) with the end of summer and beginning both of school and the football season.

It also (pardon the pun) kicks off a season of holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and finally concluding with Super Bowl Sunday, our newest secular holiday. That last public festival will be on Feb. 2, and then a new season starts.

Not-Christmas (suggestions for an alternative name are welcome!) starts in the dead of winter, but soon gives way to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and the opening of the baseball season, with all its metaphorical connection to the rebirth of hope each spring (for everyone except the Houston Astros).

The season takes us through Easter and Passover and into summer, which brings weddings, vacations, a slower pace and a chance to recharge our batteries for the beginning of the cycle all over again.

There’s no direct religious significance to the concept of Christmas and Not-Christmas; the winter holiday has as much secular folk meaning as it does a sectarian purpose.  The two have existed for centuries and doubtless will continue indefinitely.

So, when you are whooping it up (or crying in your beer) during the Super Bowl you will not only be observing the crowning of a new football champion, but marking the midway point of another year of the good life in the good old U.S.A.

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