Tacoween

Last year, Megan coined the term micro-holiday to describe the profusion of celebratory events that unofficially litter our calendars. Some micro-holidays are PR Stunts (National Pancake Day), others are public advocacy campaigns (Thyroid Awareness Month), others are and others are just delightful inventions (International Talk Like a Pirate Day). The democratization of time itself, as Megan put it. “Pretty much anyone can celebrate a micro-holiday. Pretty much anyone can start one.

Once you start thinking about holidays as flexible and arbitrary, you notice new patterns. For example: Celebrations like Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve), Christmas Eve, and Mardi Gras are unique because they exist only in relation to the day that follows them. (Jewish holidays always begin on the prior evening, but that’s because the Jewish day starts at sunset.)

Not enough such celebrations exist. So, given Megan’s invitation, I’m going to indulge. Today, on this All Hallow’s Eve, I want to introduce you to a new micro-holiday of my own invention: Tacoween. Just as Halloween marks the day before All Saints Day so Tacoween commemorates of the day before you eat tacos.

Tacoween bears a delightful surprise: you can only celebrate it retrospectively. Tomorrow’s certain plans for tacos notwithstanding, you never really know if today will have been Tacoween until you consummate the eating of tacos one day hence. In the interim, you just don’t know. All manner of accidents might intervene: changed plans, missed connections. Once my local taqueria even closed between my intended and actualized taco excursion.

But then eventually, as hands grasp and lift crisp or soft tortillas, just before awaiting maws pounce they can utter, “Yesterday was Tacoween!”

Why celebrate Tacoween? Because the taco deserves this little meditation on gratitude. It is a humble food, borrowed from the indigenous peoples of Central America first by the European conquistadors who also decimated them, and then again by the North Americans who adopted this delight as their own.

When I mark my own Tacoween, common questions arise. Do burritos count? No. Is a burrito a taco? Is there burritoween, then? No. In its most basic form, the taco is a tortilla wrapped around meat, not one swelling with fillings. The exercise is one of focus and respect. To develop a relationship with the taco as a symbol of joy, but also of contingency. Just as Hernán Cortés, the first Western taco eater, dismantled the Aztec empire, so all worldly matters are uncertain. Unlike Taco Tuesday, which is Big Taco’s hypercommercialized, recurring Black Friday, Tacoween salutes deference rather than gratification.

All Saints’ Day is a Christian feast day, which commemorates those who have achieved the beatific vision—the direct communion with God in heaven. Cortés and his kindred brought Christianity to the New World, along with smallpox. So tomorrow, on Hallowmas, consider eating a taco. If you succeed, you will have transformed this Halloween into Tacoween as well. It’s the least you can do.

But you need not stop there. Every day might be Tacoween. You just won’t know until tomorrow.