image by Phil Whitehouse

Today is Australia Day. It is going to be one of the hottest on record. This means wide-brimmed hats, zinc sunscreen, crowded beaches, muchas alcohol and a bloody good day for the ice cream makers.

It is on this day that Australians grab their stars and English flag combo wrap it around their rowdy bodies, raise their beer glasses and slur something patriotic in their best okka accent. God bless Australia. It usually begins with a beach bbq – eggs, bacon, sausages, perhaps even pancakes, then moves on to a looooong lunch with more sausages, meat, sauce, wine/beer and token salad. Then there are the games: cricket, soccer, beach ball games and water sports. A water pistol may make an appearance, ending, no doubt in buckets of water being poured over the opposition.

What is it really all about? It used to be called Anniversary Day, Foundation Day and ANA Day (Australian Natives Association Day celebrated on this day in Victoria). Ultimately, this day is based on the arrival of the First Fleet ships sailing into Sydney Cove in 1788. Think tall ships and scurvy. These days many forward thinking Australians call it Invasion Day in respect to the original inhabitants, the Aboriginal people. For me, Australia Day is the acknowledgment of our history, good and bad. It is also about moving on as one people to build a better history. It should be a time to come together and enjoy all the good things Australia has to offer and it has heaps, just ask Oprah!

A few years ago we celebrated Canada Day in Calgary. For Canadians July 1st marks the birth of their nation when two British colonies and a province (just for good measure) were united and set free to fly on their own with mother bird looking on anxiously. Like us they have a big old party with music, picnics, citizenship ceremonies and fireworks. Happy Birthday Canada.

America has Independence Day, the UK just celebrates the Queen’s actual birthday, many countries commemorate Independence days from Colonial etc rule, there are the abolition of slavery occasions and a few Saintly days thrown in too. Greenland celebrates the longest day of the year (21st June) because what is more important than sunshine? One of the newest days is the Basque County Day which will be officially observed for the first time this year on October 25.

Wherever you are and regardless the day you celebrate for whatever reason, it’s simply a chance to have a massive party, a moment to reflect on your nation’s history and (if you’re in a free and thriving place) appreciate all that you have been given.

image by Stuart Edwards