Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day! Is that the right phrase, or is it supposed to be Happy 4th? Happy Holiday? Five years in this country and I still haven't figured it out. Or, rather, I figure it out over and over again every year, because my memory is non-stick coated, and I forget.

The first year I lived in US people asked me how we celebrate July 4th in Sweden. It took a little while for me to understand that they were serious. "Umm, we don't... This is an American holiday. We celebrate our holidays."

To me, coming from a small country, it seemed self evident. Now, after living here for a few years, I understand the question better. People can live here their entire lives without being directly affected by the surrounding world. We travel to other countries, and here people travel to other states. It's a cultural difference...

I like that America celebrates the national holiday with enthusiasm. Norway does that too, on "Syttende Mai" (May 17) and I think us Swedes watch them with a sting of envy. We celebrate some holidays with heart and soul, but the national holiday has always been a bit... lame. Actually, we didn't even have one up until a few years ago.

That might sound strange. How can a country not have a day to celebrate itself? Well, historically, we had a bit of a wild side. We'd go out and conquer. First the Vikings and later our Kings were all over the place, invading not only the countries around us, but also parts of Russia and Northern Europe. One of them died while making war in Poland. We haven't had a national holiday, because we're lucky. We weren't conquered, so we never had to break free.

I think every person in the country appreciates this and is grateful for it. That doesn't mean we don't envy other peoples' ability to engulf in celebration. In Norway, everyone dresses up and goes into the streets waving flags. There's traditional food, and many feast for days. In Sweden, we go "Yay, a day off work!" It's a big contrast.

To be fair, we do celebrate other things. Like the last day of April. This day we try to scare the last remnant of winter away with bonfires, songs, and fireworks. Bonfires and fireworks go well with Easter too - at that time a year we believe evil witches fly to BlÄkulla, and fireworks will scare them off so they don't land on the way. And, there is Midsummer, of course. I stubbornly celebrate that even here. No one else does and people might think I'm a bit crazy, but I have to celebrate the summer solstice. It's a a part of who I am.

Anyway, Independence Day... In my part of town the neighbors celebrated big time yesterday. I'm assuming they have to go to work tomorrow, and took the opportunity to be hung over today. LOL. They were playing with fireworks for hours. Tonight, it's our turn. Thus far today we've had a NERF war.

However you celebrate, whatever you do today, stay safe and have a great time! =D


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