The excitement is building here in British Columbia as the Olympic torch heads towards its final destination in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. The Olympic Flame was lit in Olympia, Greece on October 22 and is now in British Columbia.
Nevertheless we should not forget that others around the world have their own celebrations at this time of the year. On Tuesday all the Australians are celebrating Australia Day.
As the Daily Telegraph put it, Seriously, it’s all about fun.
It’s the legacy of 22 years in which we have become increasingly comfortable with our national identity, ever since the Bicentennial celebrations of 1988 when Sydney Harbour was full of tall ships in glorious full sail, the Mint was issuing commemorative medals, the Queen came to open our new Parliament House, and everyone rushed to Brisbane for Expo 88.
At the same time, the Hawke government insisted Australia Day be celebrated on the day itself, January 26, not the nearest Monday to create a long weekend for a long weekend’s sake. This also enabled Australians to embrace the day properly.
Thanks to the patriotic revival inspired by 1988 and invigorated by the 2000 Olympics, Australians are now confident in their sense of themselves, enthusiastic about the symbols of nationhood and more than happy to celebrate a bit of national pride with a steak sandwich and a beer.