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Friday, 1 July 2016

Happy Canada Day!


Spring in Ottawa, acrylic, 11" x 14"


Blog 27


Happy Canada Day to all of you! I hope you will spend a terrific day celebrating Canada's 149th birthday with family and friends.

I spent my first ever Canada Day at a street festival in Streetsville, which is part of Mississauga. Everyone seemed to be on their feet. However, I was disappointed that there was just one burger booth and a live band playing. I was used to quite a different kind of street festival from Germany, where you would find one booth after another – an eclectic mixture of arts and crafts, kitsch, and lots of food. There would also be street performers and carousels for the kids.

We probably would have encountered more of the Canada Day experience if we had gone to Toronto, but I am not sure I could have handled the crowds of people.

I do not think I was fully aware of the significance of Canada Day for many Canadians who are celebrating “Canada's birthday”, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution Act of July 1, 1867. On this day, Canada became a new country within the British Empire.

The country-wide celebrations include lots of outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts. Citizenship Ceremonies are held for new citizens.

I am still not a big fan of all the crowds and have avoided downtown Ottawa for the last ten years, even though I have to admit that I would be interested in some of the events taking place on Parliament Hill. Instead, I usually spend a quiet day at home before watching the fireworks of a smaller community east of Ottawa.

Germany does not have an equivalent holiday. Few Germans even know that May 23, 1949 was the day that the Federal Republic of Germany was founded. The day was never celebrated as an official holiday.

Instead, in 1954 West Germany established June 17 as a national holiday called "Day of German Unity", in memory of the 1953 East German rebellion. However, most Germans forgot the importance of this day and were just happy for an extra holiday.

It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the German reunification that Germans celebrate the German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) on October 3, the date of formal reunification. It is a celebration of the attainment of the goal of a united Germany.

The selection of the date for the holiday was not an easy one due to the fact that the fall of the Berlin Wall happened on November 9, which was also the day of the infamous “Kristallnacht” (The Night of the Broken Glass). On November 9, 1938, Jewish synagogues and shops were destroyed, and tens of thousands of Jews were removed to concentration camps.


The Day of German Unity is celebrated each year with a ceremonial act hosted habitually in the state capital of the German state that presides over the “Bundesrat” (Federal Council) in the respective year as well as with local festivals. However, you can in no way compare the festivities with the nationwide Canada Day celebrations where almost everyone takes part in the big party.

Have fun and celebrate today! I hope you will return next Friday to follow my experiences as a visitor of this diverse country.

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