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A holiday by any name is just as sweet


IN THE current row between Hongkong and China, there are more than political and economic issues at stake.

Through the Joint Liaison Group, Chinese officials will soon discuss plans to add, substitute or discard Hongkong's 17 public holidays after 1997.

This is an important matter to many in the territory; not because of the religious or political implications, but rather the fact that the holidays are just a good excuse for a vacation.

Let's face it, most of us would probably celebrate the Toilet God's birthday if it meant a paid day off.

One holiday which will probably not survive is the much-celebrated Queen's Birthday.

No longer will we be able to attend Queen costume parties where the men dress in drag and the women wear tiaras and carry matching hand bags in the crooks of their arm.

If the Queen has been replaced on a two-dollar coin by a flower, her birthday will most likely be substituted for People's Fertiliser Day.

Whether the Easter holidays will survive or not may rely on Hongkong's ability to adapt to slight changes in tradition.

For many people, the thought of the Easter Bunny does not conjure up images of a cuddly rabbit who runs around hiding chocolate Easter eggs. To them, the Easter Bunny reminds them of the different ways they can cook him.

Instead, the Easter Rabbit could be replaced by the Rabbit God - half-animal, half-man, with buck teeth, big ears and long whiskers.

The Rabbit God could appear every Easter to give all the good boys and girls thousand-year-old eggs in a bed of dried bird's nest.

For those who fancy something a bit more adult, Easter could be changed to Playboy Bunny Day.

With necklines going down on the dresses of Hongkong starlets and hemlines going up, Playboy Bunny Day could celebrate the day both ends meet.

Since Christmas may not be celebrated officially after 1997, we will no longer have to worry about serving a turkey at Christmas dinner. (From then on, we only need to invite people we like.) Instead of exchanging elaborate gifts, married couples will have to pass out red envelopes containing McLai See and a dozen cake coupons.

When the children wake up in the morning, they will have found that the Birkey God - half-bird, half-monkey - had flown over their building while they were asleep, depositing droppings on the laundry hanging outside their window.

ALTHOUGH St Patrick's Day and Halloween are not public holidays in Hongkong, they may be celebrated in a slightly different manner in the future.

St Patrick's Day will be in honour of the poor men who have been jilted by the kind of women who every once in a while feel like a New Man.

The men will gather in the pub drinking all day and wearing green hats.

For Halloween, people will dress like their favourite ancestor and carve jack-o'-lanterns out of winter melon.

In place of the usual sweets, children will receive smelly tofu and hell bank notes.

Holidays such as the recent Ching Ming festival will most likely remain.

People will still swarm to the graveyards to picnic on tombstones and ask their ancestors to bless their bets at the horse track.

Smugglers in Hongkong have been petitioning the Government to change the Dragon Boat Festival to the Speed Boat Festival.

Plans are for teams to be formed to see who can steal a Lexus and transport it across the border first.

Contestants will also be judged on how well they are able to maintain their hairstyle while travelling at 50 knots an hour.

Winners will receive a BMW which will be stolen within the week.

Meanwhile, labour unions here have repeatedly asked the Government to declare Labour Day - May 1 - a public holiday, because many other countries have acknowledged the same arrangement.

In a similar vein, the Mothers' Union has asked for their own Labour Day, lasting 91/2 months.

The Hongkong Education and Manpower Branch is now conducting a holiday review (no doubt from a beach in the Caribbean) which will be finalised in the second half of the year.

For those officials who may be negotiating our precious holidays, I have only one suggestion.

Negotiate like Moses. Christmas is only one day, but he got eight for Hanuka, the Jewish holiday.