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Gaborone, Botswana
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

American Style Holiday

Being away from home helps one appreciate their own country and culture. I have met many people here that are under the impression that either American culture is an oxymoron or that American culture has infiltrated every nook and cranny of the world through movies and television; well I disagree with both points of view. One of the mainstays of American culture that I don't believe exists anywhere else in the world is the Holiday.

It's interesting because holidays are celebrated everywhere, and here in Botswana they have more public holidays then I've ever seen in my life - my four day Easter holiday was followed by a 3 day Labor day weekend and if I was in South Africa I would have gotten an addition Wednesday off for some other holiday. In the midst of all of these holidays with plenty of days free from work I found myself bored and homesick because holiday means something completely different in America than in does here it Botswana. Easter is the perfect example. I love Easter, Easter is probably the defining cultural holiday in the Black church. In the Black church Easter Sunday is full of colorful outfits and beautiful hats. Children typically get a new outfit, if you're a girl it's bound to be an extremely fluffy dress and every child old enough to speak does an Easter speech or plays a part in the Easter play. At 2 the speech usually looks like a little kid being prompted by their mom to say "Jesus Wept" at 10 it's probably a page long poem about crucifixtion and sacrifice but everyone participates.

White House Easter Egg Hunt

The Black Church does Easter a bit differently but across America communities of all colors and relgions greet Easter by organizing Easter Egg hungs, which creates days of fun you boil the eggs, you dye the eggs, you hide the eggs, you dress the kids up and you let them loose to hunt colorful eggs and choclates in a local park. I tried to talk about an Easter Egg hunt with one of my co-workers and they looked at me like I had three heads. "You hide eggs outside, what for?" Okay, part of it is probably the seasonal differnce while Easter marks the start of Spring in the states here Easter is at the beginning of winter - no one wants to send their 3 year old out to hunt dyed egges in the rain, but given that you get good Friday and Easter monday off here you think some sort of tradition would spring up. NADA! I actually had people over for an Easter dinner. I really didn't think it would work, don't you want to spend time with your family on Easter was greeted with the same blank stare as my description of an Easter egg hunt. It's just how culture works - America likes to celebrate holidays other cultures just don't quite get it. So as my American friends ramp up to celebrate Cinco de Mayo the holiday where Americans fill up on Margarita's and guacamole to celebrate the victory of Mexico over France in a small and insignificant battle - people in Mexico will go about their Thursday. And as Hallmark stores across the US switch from Easter Cards and decorations to Mother's day cards and decorations to Father's day and Graduation cards and decorations - I'll just continue scheduling dinner parties.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Rachel,
    i enjoyed searching eggs and all that stuff here in ger, thought Bots would do it to, but bring all the celebration to them as it was the same with thanksgiving :)