Holidays here and there

by Yule Heibel on September 6, 2004

It’s Labour Day in Canada, too, but one thing that really stands out for me is how differently holidays are celebrated in the US and Canada. Perhaps it’s a West Coast thing, or perhaps it’s an “island thing” (the laid-back culture), but you could miss every single holiday here easily. The only exception is perhaps Christmas, and that’s mainly because Victoria plays the tourist shtick and likes to put on an elaborate fake-Dickensian fake-Victorian “season.” In the US, at least on the East Coast, on the other hand, it was impossible to escape the memorialdayness of Memorial Day, the labordayness of Labour Day, the independencedayness of Independence Day (Canada Day, on July 1, is invisible in comparison), the thanksgivingdayness of Thanksgiving, and so on and so forth. It has something to do with commercialisation — all of these holidays are an excuse to sell homemakers, hosts, and other social animals (mostly women) all sorts of decorations, gadgets, food items, party treats, etc. — but it’s also the case that entire clans if not towns take these celebrations incredibly seriously. Children are marshalled into parades, adults are dragooned into barbecues, parks are pressed into service for mass lobster dinners followed by fireworks. There is nothing, absolutely nothing comparable, in Victoria. In one way it feels great — no pressure — and in another it’s weird. It’s like the old joke about the English: “no sex please, we’re British.” On holidays, everyone around here seems to become British and makes sure that their hair is tightly tucked under their bike helmets as they sternly make their way toward greater physical fitness by biking the entire stretch of the City’s scenic route, twice. Neighbourhood barbecues? Beer in the park? Nuh-uh. At least not within 10 km of where I live. On another note: I’ve put my blogroll on a separate page. (See bar at right, “The Blogroll page”). Trying to clean the look up a bit.


maria September 7, 2004 at 6:26 pm

Let me see: For the last couple of years the only thing that stands out for me in this part of California about Labour Day is the frentic sales. That and the fact that my favorite coffe place closes at 6:00 p.m., instead of 8:00 p.m. I don’t think Victoria has the patent on ignoring holidays that don’t advance a region’s kitch factor.

maria September 7, 2004 at 6:31 pm

Oops, I think I messed up the link to my site’s URL. It should be

But, just to continue the argument: one of the fanciest grocery stores in my neighborhood is now open from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Christmas, Easter, and New Year … those days when a couple of years ago you could count on such places being closed. Which meant that you had to plan, which meant that you had to be aware of the nature of the holiday ahead of you.

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