Every day is some day in America. At one end you have Mother Goose Day (May 1) and Lumpy Rug Day (May 3). At the other are No Sock Day (May 8) and Lost Sock Memorial Day (May 9). Some of these days may have started off as jokes. But today they are all serious business.
Take the Lost Sock Memorial Day. In Hartford, Connecticut, there is a whole programme around it. People bring out their lost socks (more correctly the one that isn’t lost), sit together and stuff them with beans to make paperweights, sock monkey and other saleable items for the next parish fair. Says the marketing literature: “Even if that other rascal of a sock never shows its face again, all will not be lost and life will go on.” Of course, the particularly parsimonious try to first match the socks into serviceable pairs. Many of these Days concern work; office-goers are people with money and they can fall for marketing lures. Companies are always trying. Who knows, Water a Flower Day may become as big a franchise as St Valentine’s Day.
St Jude — one of the 12 apostles of Christian mythology — hasn’t yet achieved the status of a Day. Jude is rather obscure. The only thing he is recorded as having done is to ask Jesus why he didn’t appear before the world after his resurrection. Until he acquires cult status, the National Day of Prayer (celebrated in the US on the first Thursday in May) must suffice. That, incidentally, has been going on for more than 60 years now.
But if you can’t have a day for Jude, you can pray to him. The Saint Jude’s Prayer “is a very special prayer indeed”. In today’s world, everything has moved online. So the site prayers-for-special-help.com tells us “When you’re down and out, and nothing else seems to be working, the prayer to St Jude is here for you.”
What can you pray for? Employment is near the top of the list, second only to prosperity. The other items are health, happiness, love and money. Ask for the world, and you might end up with a job. Not that everybody wants a job. Among the many online requests are: “Please help bring my boyfriend back to life.” and “Please let Antonio get out of jail.” Hey Jude, Lazarus lives.
And Jude will have his day soon. Some marketing pundit will discover a way to capitalise on the rising star. (Take a sad song and make it better.)
It’s not Christians alone who take to God when they want a job. Muslims, of course, take their prayers to the workplace with them. In the US, there have been several controversies surrounding people who want to pray on the job. Last year, Hertz suspended 34 Muslim bus drivers when they ran afoul of regulations. The company says employees need to clock out during their two, 10-minute breaks each day. The workers, however, were not doing that.
Hindus have their own way of doing things. Godmen will give you rings and ash to aid your job-hunting efforts. Some temples have employment as USP. The Sri Vilvavaneswarar Temple, Thiruvaikavur, promises to boost your “employment chances”. The Sri Kothandaramar Temple, Mudikondan, will answer your prayers for “employment opportunities, promotion in job”. And the Sri Subramaniaswamy Temple, Dindigul, says that “Those aspiring for prestigious and leadership positions in jobs pray to Lord Muruga in the temple.”
But perhaps the most bizarre is what is happening in Uganda today. Idi Amin with his reported human flesh eating propensities is dead and gone, but his rituals go marching on. According to a survey by Ugandan government-owned daily newspaper New Vision, workers are increasingly turning to witchcraft to brighten their employment prospects (see chart).
That’s the way to go if you want a wizard job.
Ugandans are turning to witchcraft to secure jobs (%)
Witchcraft is common in the workplace?
Have you heard of or seen signs of witchcraft in the office
How many of your colleagues depend on witchcraft
Average number 41
Too many 17
Too few 42
People use witchcraft to:
Seek job promotions 90
Prosper in business 12
Harm workmates 17
Will witchcraft increase?
Source: New Vision survey