Many apologies to Katy and Katy for being so delayed in writing the last two blogs. I can get awfully lazy and sometimes I put off writing and when I do that, it doesn’t often get done.
Why is it that this country only gets excited about this country when it’s the football? England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, it doesn’t matter which part of the country you’re from, sports appears to be the one thing that promotes patriotism.
But what about pride over country? It frustrates me that in England we see hundreds of England flags during football events, yet when it’s Saint George’s Day we see maybe one or two. It infuriates me non-stop that football use the flags without any alternation because instead of allowing the flag to represent its country, the flag then represents sport. To me and England flag is football, not what it should be.
My flag and football issues aside. Why don’t we celebrate being British? Most other countries in the world seem to have a special day, a public holiday, where they can celebrate traditions connected to their country. The USA and France have their own Independence Days, Australia have their very aptly named Australia Day and in fact, the USA also has Thanksgiving which allows citizens to give thanks for the things in their lives.
Now in the UK we do have Saints days and some are more celebrated than others (though I’m pretty sure the obsession with St Patrick’s Day is more to do with alcohol than the day itself) and the tradition of Saints days is a religious one. Since the UK is more multicultural than it once was and there’s a higher percentage of atheists and/or those who don’t practice a religion it almost feels unfitting to take the Saints days as a national day. Besides, with four countries with their own identities (and tensions surrounding some foreign desire to call everyone, including our Scottish and Welsh friends, English when really they mean British) having Saint George’s Day, for example, as our national day would be rather offensive to the rest of the country (when I say country, I mean the UK, not the four separate nations within our united nation).
The only problem though is, what other day would we have? For the USA, Independence Day has a purpose, as does Thanksgiving, they both have historical details which are the reason for such days. We aren’t afforded such pleasure – we weren’t given independence from another country (everyone else was given independence from us!) and we haven’t had any significant events like the Indians coming to the Pilgrims aid back in the 1600s. We have various years of significance – 1066 is the one that springs most to mind, it’s the first history lesson I remember from my secondary school years. But a year isn’t a date.
Some people suggest Shakespeare’s birthday, or other such moments where people of yesteryear have been born. Other have said we should have it in summer because who wouldn’t want a day off in the middle of summer to have barbecues and set off fireworks, or whatever we want to do with the day.
Really, should we force a traditional day just for the sake of it? I know, let’s have a special day to give thanks to our country…it all seems rather forced to me. How can you have a tradition that’s falsely created simply because we all want an extra Bank Holiday in the summer and feel like we should have a day that is ours? There’s other such events where we can practice our Britishness, without forcing anything on it; Remembrance Day is probably our most patriotic of occasions. Should we take the eleventh of November as a holiday and celebrate? Probably not. The occasion doesn’t promote getting drunk which a holiday for this reason would result in, it’s a day to remember, not piss about.
So maybe, just maybe, we should allow the world to continue turning as it does and instead put our thoughts into the events we do have in the yearly calendar. What better examples of Britishness than Comic Relief, Children In Need, football, the Olympics, Eurovision (even if we have turned it into a bit of a joke) and Remembrance Day. All events which represent very different aspects of our lives – there’s the comedy, the gut wrenching passion and most of all, the need to remember and help those who are in need or have helped us. Why do we need a day to do it all at once?