It is the one day in the year on which the rest of us catch up with those among us who proudly dress their vehicles with Australian flags and run the Ocker flag up the pole. Just for today (12-step group pending) it’s okay to wear a tattoo, put flags on the lunch table, have paper serviettes printed with Australian memorabilia, and sing about someone called a “Waltzing Mathilda” and loudly declare “We’re Proud to be Australian”.
Yes peeps, on this day each year we wear our national pride on our faces, arms, chests and any other naked flesh we feel prompted to expose, or others feel prompted to expose on our behalf because we’re unconscious under the table with our empty bottle of pink bubbly (alcoholic beverage of choice).
But now a little history for you …
26th January marks the anniversary of raising of the British flag in 1788 (that’s when the British first fleet landed on these fair shores). I learned today that a Dutchman was the first person to discover Australia back in the seventeenth century (did they have proper boats back then?). Over time it has also become known as “Invasion Day” (when the British invaded a land inhabited by Aboriginal tribes), ‘Anniversary Day’, and ‘Federation Day’. It’s a day to forget about the myriad injustices inflicted on the Indigenous people and congratulate ourselves for the great place this is thanks to our endeavours. It is a land that has opened its doors and hearts to people from other nations and celebrates their culture, language and customs. Yes, we celebrate diversity (as long as it doesn’t mess with our sense of what it is to be Australian) and we are appalled should anyone suggest we are racist (which the majority of us are).
Considering I’m not an official Australian I’m pretty impressed with my newly gained knowledge of the local history. I learned all this during our after lunch quiz. Yep, before I got to the end of my bottle of pink bubbly (I did offer but no one wanted to share) it was straight into the serious head stuff. I’m thinking that if I remembered so much after one glass imagine the whizz I’d be by the time I was staring into the bottom of the bottle. And before you get ideas that I’m a lush I want to say that I did use the glass provided. My parents would be so proud.
Today people celebrate in a variety of ways that reflect the diversity of Australia’s population. In our part of this vast land people gather on the shores of Lake Macquarie with picnic baskets and bask in the magnificence of a stunning sunset while enjoying the festivities going on around them. To round the evening off there are usually fireworks around 9pm after which we toddle off to bed and wait for the Sandman to visit us.
As for the MOTH (man of the house) and myself we spent the afternoon with friends celebrating everything wonderful about this country, and shrugging off the not so wonderful things we’ve done to the first people of this land. We enjoyed a typical barbecue where everyone (the women) brought salads and desserts and we all ate too much. In our defence we did have a sedate wander down to the lake front to see what others were doing. All in all a great way to spend a day with wonderful friends.