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What is the Most Australian Way to Spend Australia Day?

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by Vanessa de Largie (subscribe)
Published January 21st 2012
(Wikimedia Commons)

What does it mean to be Australian?

Do you think we are a patriotic country?

More importantly, are you patriotic?

I tend to agree with the opinions of Germaine Greer; I think Australians are confused about our identity.

Perhaps this is the reason for the 'tall poppy syndrome' that exists here in our homeland, as viral as Facebook.

We call ourselves the lucky country, the sunburnt country with the laid back culture.

It wasn't until I travelled to Europe, America and Asia, that I realised and appreciated some of the positives of being an Australian. One certainly feels safe here, that is for sure.

But is our laid back syndrome crippling?

In America, its all about being patriotic. I found out first hand, arriving in New York on Independence Day.

I had what they call a 'cultural cringe' as I took photos of the American flag displayed on curtains, cups, pens, walls, letterboxes and clothing, it was a little overwhelming to say the least. Not to mention the very Un-Australian welcome I received from our patriotic American friends.

Can you imagine a foreigner arriving to your home on Australia Day?

They would be invited to join the celebrations would they not?

Well, that day I was left in my temporary housing alone, while my four American housemates celebrated Independence Day with a BBQ. Sour grapes aside, I love countries that encourage and support the individual and the go-getter and Americans do it so well.

If you are an ambitious Aussie, one can feel stifled here, especially in the entertainment industry. (I speak from personal experience) A go-getter attitude can scare Australian employers rather than get you hired.

[B] So what is the Most Australian Way to Spend Australia Day?[B]

Is going out on the 26th of January, wearing Australian flag tattoos and guzzling VB the way to go?

I cringe at that too. Am I a sceptic?

I would like to believe we are a deeper, more intelligent nation.

I believe the most Australian way to celebrate Australia Day is to broaden our thinking. To make a shift in ourselves and our lives, that actually moves us forward in the big picture. Funding for the arts, acceptance and laws passed regarding gay marriage, increased protection and supervision of our elderly in nursing homes and palliative care hospices. These are just some examples. Am I being idealistic?

What is the most Australian way to spend Australia Day?

Somebody tell me. I'm open to ideas.
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Maybe the most Australian way would be NOT to celebrate Australia Day :)

I must admit, I feel uneasy about patriotism. People draped in Australian flags seem too often to contain a dislike of anyone not like them (this seems to apply to Anglos, mainly. I think Anglos have the biggest identity crisis of all the groups)

I wonder, considering the history of the way this country was founded, how much that feeds into our identity crisis.

Interesting post :)
by Sue Stevenson (score: 2|569) 4029 days ago
I would like more Australians to be less judgmental and accept all Australians as worthy of respect. I am 5th generation Australian with British heritage. I have always thought of myself and family as Australian. Where did the term 'Anglo' come from? I find this disrespectful.I do not put labels on any of my community.
by junea (score: 2|202) 1805 days ago
I am sorry to think that those of us who are happy to wave the flag are considered to be "cringe worthy" or worse still "secret racists". If you are any sort of discerning traveller, you will notice in other countries on their special day, there are lots of flags, bunting, decorations and events in many cities, towns and villages. Have you been in France on Bastille Day? Have you been in Estonia on it's national day of independence? What about Poland? It's called patriotism - not racism. So why not celebrate Australia Day with all it's attendant "cringe worthy" decorations and don't let the nay-sayers put you off.
by twoma (score: 0|5) 4028 days ago
I cringed as soon as I read you went with the opinions of that self opinionated expat Germaine Greer. Lets see. Funding for the Arts? Lets forget transport, hospitals, education, etc and find extra cash for more Gregorian Chant concerts. And yes, everyone demands better care for our elderly but is anyone actually prepared to do the job themselves? Not so long as we can import workers from the Philippines to do it.
I am so glad that we don't have to suffer through flags on our pens, cups and everything else. Most Aussie accept Australia Day as a day off work. We don't need to dwell on the reasoning behind it because we know Australia is a land of prosperity and good fortune. We don't need one single day to convince ourselves because we see it every day. The poor ol Yanks are trying to avoid accepting that theirs is a land of once-were's; that other countries are overtaking them as power economies. Australia has never reached the lofty heights of the US so we've never had to deal with the downward slide.
So as to your theme, which is odd a week after the Day. Why do you suggest that we will "guzzle" VB all day? Is there something wrong with having a couple of VB's rather than a couple of Moet's? Many people will go out to dinner and enjoy a beer rather than the Sauv Blanc but does that make them any less credible? Please do not ask me to spend a nice day off contemplating gay rights and other such topics. Anyone who needs to spend Australia Day in search of a bit of deep and meaningfull is not a real Aussie. Its a day off, or if the timings good, its a long weekend! We've got 365 days to appreciate what a great country we live in and we don't need to sit in Times Square or Trafalgar Square to know that.
by john5 (score: 2|164) 4020 days ago
Visit the Tent embassy in Canberra and say your sorry. Then book a table at a local Canberra restaurant and watch to see how many politicians and media staff are there thinking up something to get attention with.

I note too, I saw so many travellers and new australians all going home from Australia Day events that I didnt wish to go to. I do think that they should have some sort of recognition ceremony for indigenous Australians. Maybe next year they could give them back the land around Manly? Umm food for thought.
by Jody Kimber (score: 2|902) 4025 days ago
breakie on the bbq - eggs bacon tomato toast followed by cut up fruit, then into the back yard cricket - normal rules ;over the fence is 6 & out,hit the shed for a 4,behind the water tank for 'how many u can run',and 6 for hitting the incinerator behind the shed.
should be early afvo be now after everone has batted,fielded and bowled - so its beer-o-clock for a slow down , bbq for tea lamb of course,potato salad,tomato from the garden,and red wine / sweet white for Mum - rest of the nite - feet up watching the tennis :)
by garne (score: 0|4) 4027 days ago
displaying our Great flag.
Let us keep it!
by abram (score: 0|4) 4028 days ago
Germaine Greer uses polarity on purpose. Its part of her academic or intellectual connection to the world. If you understand that she works from an anarchistic and polarization theoretical perspective, you don't see what she says as being more than a polarization of current social discourse. The objective of such polarization can be to open the discussion to allow all views to be heard and possibly achieve an outcome that has a more harmonious long term social effect.... Although, Germaine might disagree with me.
by Jody Kimber (score: 2|902) 1804 days ago
And by the way...who cares what Germaine Greer thinks. This woman left Australia so many years ago, she has no concept of what it's like to be an Aussie.
by twoma (score: 0|5) 4028 days ago
Having a BBQ with all your neighbours... a good old street gathering of families.
by Alexa (score: 0|2) 4028 days ago
Going to the cricket at the Adelaide Oval - Australia versus India. Should be a big crowd, good sunny weather and most likely the last chance to see one of the best batsman of all time, Sachin Tendulkar, bat in a test match in Australia. Hopefully he can get his record 100th international century! Everyone should come to the oval!
by VTN (score: 2|222) 4028 days ago
by michelle (score: 0|2) 4029 days ago
Australia Day very overrated..most use it just as an excuse to get way too drunk. The tradition of BBQ very much overdone as well..
by Bronwyn Tillman (score: 1|16) 3855 days ago
do nothing
by kinga0 (score: 0|2) 4023 days ago
As long as it DOESN'T involve eating lamb or some other cruelty to animals, it's an Australian way as far as I'm concerned!
by gayle18 (score: 1|33) 4028 days ago

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