Happy Australia Day
Artwork © Richard Galbraith, 2006.
Australia doesn't have many traditions. Attempts to get Halloween off the ground have stalled due to one too many homeowners telling little kids to get off their property or they will see a scary sight. Australia's equivalent of America's Thanksgiving Day is Australia Day on January 26, the landing of the First Fleet of Convicts in Botany Bay.
Unfortunately, there is much more emotional resonance in celebrating pioneering pilgrims who broke bread with the natives than there is in celebrating criminals that stole bread and were duly hung. Needless to say, Australia has no tradition of putting the old ball and chain on your leg, and subsequently walking down the street in tribute to the founding fathers. Likewise, Australia has no statues of the pioneering Convicts holding up their shackled wrists in triumph!
Ironically, the suffering the Convicts and the cruelty of the wardens makes the anniversary of their landing quite a useful date for a national celebration. Because Australia commenced in such a negative way, the date provides a great opportunity to reflect upon how far Australia has come, and how far it still has to go.
Many Australians put such sentiments into action by using Australia Day to visit friends, attend a rock concert, or have a barbeque. Because there are no firm prescriptions about how they should think or feel, most Australians simply take the initiative to make the day into what they want it to be. Castle Bliss inhabitants 'touch base' with the neighbours for a couple of hours on this day. It's our turn to host the event, so I am baking scones.
Whatever you are doing to celebrate, my Australian mates, E-N-J-O-Y