A post about Thanksgiving because you haven't read enough of those yet - Tactical Ninja
Nov. 25th, 2011
09:36 am - A post about Thanksgiving because you haven't read enough of those yet
Today my flist is all about Thanksgiving. This isn't surprising, the English-speaking part of LJ is dominated by the United States. I'm trying to get my head around what Thanksgiving is and how it relates to holidays we celebrate here. I mean, I know what it's about in terms of history and I'm aware that there are a bunch of different ways of looking at it. But it also seems to be a very unifying thing. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it seems everyone (or at least everyone whose life I'm lucky enough to glimpse) celebrates it in some form, and that there are some important commonalities, one of which seems to be eating a lot, turkeys are involved apparently, a family gathering, and something about football.
Our day of acknowledging colonisation is Waitangi Day, February 6. It's a public holiday but there's generally no feasting involved, it's more an official type holiday where politicians make speeches, activist groups protest, folks like me get tied up in knots about what/whether we should be celebrating given that Maori still get shat on on a regular basis, and other folks grump about how we're all New Zealanders now and what the hell do we care about this WHY-TANGEY thing anyway*? But we take the holiday - who wouldn't?
Our day for stuffing our faces is Christmas Day. Easter is about chocolate but isn't the Day O Feasting. It's just past summer solstice when we have Christmas (something my expat USian friends say they have a lot of trouble getting used to), and every Kiwi grows up with this weird cognitive dissonance about it given that carols are all about white christmases and one horse open sleighs and roasting chestnuts on the fire and cards all depict warmly-dressed people in winter wonderland scenes, while we're cracking a cold one round the barbie in our togs at the beach. For me, strawberries and sunshine are evocative of Christmas, and my memories of it as a kid are full of haymaking and bodysurfing. But yeah, the traditional lamb roast with mint sauce and roast spuds, kumara and pumpkin are still adhered to by many folks - so we stuff ourselves with stodgy winter food at lunch time (followed up by pavlova - kiwifruit topping optional) and then lie around groaning for the afternoon. Sometimes there's a barbecue for the evening meal.
NB my family was never all that traditional, and couldn't see what the deal was with some people in the household (usually the women) spending the entire day working to create this giant meal that usually only got half eaten, then cleaning up and eating leftovers that get increasingly gross for several days afterwards. Hence, our traditional Christmas meal was eggs, beans and chips, followed by ice cream. Took about 20 minutes to make and 10 to clean up, no leftovers. Lunch was get your own. We spent Christmas hanging out as a family doing stuff.
NB Number 2 I have noted in my very noob-level observation of Chinese holidays in Hong Kong that for pretty much all of their festivals, stuffing yourself full of food is important. I wonder how a Chinese person might view the non-food-based holidays in NZ, or indeed, as Dr Wheel and I were wondering yesterday, whether you can get the ice cream moon cakes here? Cause NOM**. Doop de doo...
Anyway, there's no holiday here that coincides with the start of the football season (is this why Thanksgiving has something to do with football?) - mostly I think because the season seems to go all year round these days, probably again because our national sport of rugby is traditionally a winter sport, and New Zealand has had to adopt at least part of the Northern Hemisphere seasonal calendar in order to be able to play internationally.
So our family, food, football and controversial colonisation issues holidays are all separate. And we don't have a holiday in winter at all. I mean, we get Queen's Birthday Monday off work, but that's right at the start of June (the very beginning of winter here even though it's almost to the solstice) and again is an official holiday rather than something people actually celebrate - and then we don't get another holiday until Labour Weekend at the end of October (spring). So we don't have that cosy family gathering in the warm, where it's actually nice to be in the kitchen because the kitchen is warm and everyone stays indoors because the weather's crap out.
I think this is an oversight on the part of New Zealand as a society. It sucks that we go for nearly five months through the darkest, yuckiest time of the year with no holiday to break it up. Some of us celebrate the solstice and others Matariki, but neither of these is officially recognised with a day off and both are still in June/July - too early. We need something in late August/early September I reckon. There's been some talk about creating a 'New Zealand Day***' but I doubt folks would adopt it as a feast day, and am wondering if we need something blatant like Spring Feast Day or some such.
I can't be the only person that kind of envies the US winter feast holidays and would happily adopt something like that here given the opportunity. Any thoughts?
* yes we have those people, much as it hurts to admit it.
** Not so much the lotus paste ones, but I suspect that's my Western palate being a wanker.
*** Problematic as. First, many think it should replace Waitangi Day (WUT). Never mind the erasure involved in calling it that. Aotearoa Day, anyone? And still, is this something we should celebrate?
Dr Wheel got on a plane last night. He'll be landing in Hong Kong in a couple of hours. There was a Joel-shaped indentation on the bed when I got home. I might have laid in it.