Elizabeth recently wrote this as a comment on the Vavilov day post. I thought it was important enough to be worth pulling out as a separate topic of discussion.
I don't love the process for generating rationalist holidays right now and tentatively think it would be better to switch to a patron saints model. People who want to can have their own hero or event that's especially close to their heart (and maybe a few secondary ones, or ones important to their friends), and if several people who like each other pick the same one they do stuff together, and if a lot of people pick the same one that becomes a more shared holiday (although still not mandatory).
One reason for this is there are just actually a lot of heroes in the world, with wildly varying resonances for a given individual, and the number of holidays the community can adopt and take seriously is pretty small. People only have so much time, and are often sharing their holiday budget with religious or more widespread secular holidays.
But the more important reason is that I really want some holidays that challenge or are demanding of people, and people vary a lot in how much of what kind of challenge they can safely take on at a given time. A cultural push for fasting could be really bad for people with eating disorders, even if there's a well respected medical or practicality exemption. Mass Winter Solstice is in constant conflict over how dark to go, given people's different needs. Lots of people felt they'd been injured by being mailed doomsday codes for LW or EAF for Petrov day...
But if you take away everything that could possibly hurt someone, you're left with parties (and even those aren't fun for everyone), and that feels sad and unfulfilling to me. So I think letting holidays exist and be respected without automatically scaling them would decrease damage done to people while upping the ceiling on what's achievable to those that want it.
If any particular hero/event does end up being so overwhelmingly popular it becomes a mass holiday, that seems fine, but letting it be an emergent process rather than an immediate bid for universality seems so much better.
I don't know that this needs to be characterized as a switch to Patron Saints model vs universal holidays. I think "big universal Schelling time" is one useful thing for holidays to do, and "niche celebration of a particular thing" is another useful thing they do. I also think "Patron Saint" isn't always quite the right frame. But I think there is something important about allowing holidays to be smaller, and let them grow organically if appropriate.
I think it's often good to experiment with things before scaling them up. Some things in fact don't make sense to scale up, ever. And I think there are indeed way more heroes worth celebrating than there are slots in the year for large public cultural holidays.
(I've actually felt this ever since the first Petrov Day ceremony – it seemed important, but I expected there to be a lot of other important stories and virtues worth celebrating. Petrov Day has since grown in prominence and I think "prevent nuclear war" is pretty high up there among things worth honoring. But my initial orientation to Petrov Day was "This seems like a holiday I'd like to celebration in rotation with other holidays. Maybe some years I want to celebrate Norman Borlaug or Smallpox Eradication." And that still seems like a fine way for many holidays to be.)
It seemed useful to separate out discussion about this from the discussion of Elizabeth-in-particular's approach to Vavilov-Day-in-particular.