July 1 : Canada Day in America : Could “Primero de Julio” be the next “Cinco de Mayo?”
Today is the first of July, aka Canada Day, the day that Canadians celebrate their national holiday. Although Canada and the U.S. share many similar holidays around similar times of year, the slight differences are important and telling. The U.S. celebrates its national holiday just three days later, on the fourth of July — but this is not called “USA Day,” it’s called Independence Day. The underlying message is that Canada is not so much independent as much as it has come to a mutual agreement with its former colonial patron, in a congenial, good-natured, conflict-avoiding sort of way. Independence shmindependence. Who is really independent, anyway? So Canadians sacrifice some national pride, but meanwhile, life goes on and the Queen is not all that bad after all, and perhaps there are some fringe benefits of being part of the British Commonwealth club. None of that fire-in-the-belly American/French Revolution stuff for us Canucks. As my buddy Mike likes to quote South Park The Movie, “It’s aboot diplomacy.”
A recent, highly unscientific survey (my Montreal friends’ Facebook status updates) indicates that many Canadians prefer to spend their national holiday on the other side of the border, in towns such as Plattsburgh NY or Burlington VT, shopping. Can you imagine? In the U.S. this would be like San Diegans going to Tijuana for the fourth of July, to pick up some bargains. Forget patriotism. It’s aboot currency power.
Which brings us to the issue of Transnationalism : the way that people increasingly retain connections to their countries and cultures of origins. Gone are the days of the cultural melting pot and the shedding of Old World ways. Between Skype, Western Union and frequent flyer miles, immigrants to the U.S. today maintain strong ties to whatever part of the globe they come from. Add to the mix the notion of holiday commercialization (think of the early 20th century co-opting of Mother’s Day in the U.S. ) and you get phenomena like Cinco de Mayo.
So now we come full circle to the question posed at the title of this post: What aboot having a “Primero de Julio,” here in the States? There’s already a Guinness Day (Saint Patrick’s), as well as a Corona Day (Cinco de Mayo), so why not a Molson Day?
All right, time to roll the films…