That question took us a bit by surprise because, well, we hadn’t really put a lot of thought into it…
And we would be dramatically understating things to say that shocked our Australian friends.
Travel is an interesting thing and one of the most interesting things, in fact the very reason Greg states for wanting to travel in the first place, is to discover and challenge one’s own unknown assumptions.
What do we assume is “normal” without even realizing that we’ve made an assumption in the first place because everyone around us makes the same one?
For example, in an urban culture (like the one we were raised in) 10PM is an early bedtime for a young professional. Whereas in an agrarian culture…
(or a sailing one – “sailors midnight” is 9PM)
…10PM is an extremely late bedtime when you are accustomed to waking up at 6AM and 8AM is “sleeping in.”
(and no, we never got used to that… 😉 )
But what does this have to do with Easter?
Well, let us ask you this:
How important is Easter, as a holiday?
Because, honestly now, we suspect to the average American the observance of Easter as an event falls somewhere below Memorial day (3 day weekend!) and is really more equivalent to Valentine’s day. Easter is ‘celebrated’ by possibly going to church for an hour, eating some chocolate and maybe…MAYBE eating a ham.
If there are kids involved there might be an hour spent decorating eggs and another hour spent finding them.
But really? What else is there? In the practical sense Easter is basically a Hallmark holiday with a few extra traditions wrapped around it. It is not at all common for an American to spend a lot of time preparing for the day. We mean, come on, it’s a religious thing right but it’s not like its Christmas or anything.
It is, for example, not at all considered ‘normal’ for someone to say they are taking some vacation just because it’s Easter.
Because, in America, Easter isn’t seen as such a big deal.
But in Australia Easter is not a 3 day weekend…
as a nation they take 4 days off!
That’s right, the Aussies take off the Monday after Easter and they also take off Good Friday!
When was the last time you knew of ANYONE doing something special for Good Friday, let alone the Monday AFTER Easter?
Let alone the whole nation?
Now, don’t get us wrong here, we are NOT endeavoring to paint Australia as the real “Christian nation” and the US as a blustering poser.
Because Aussies are freaking famous for their desire to have a day off. They make commercials about it.
(it’s cool Kiwis, they’re just jealous of your beer)
We are talking about a people here who have raised the act of scamming a day off work by calling in sick to an art form – they even have a term for it in their national lexicon, “taking a sicky.” We are also talking about a people that have a national holiday celebrating the birthday of the Queen of England.
Ok, well as a card-carrying member of the “commonwealth of countries upon which the sun never sets” technically she’s Australia’s Queen too but it should be noted that this holiday does not coincide with the actual birthday of the Queen of England…it’s about 2 months off but hey, there’s a time difference right?
It should also be noted that ENGLAND does not take a day off to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of England. On her birthday or any other day.
At least the Aussies love the Queen
(which is more than a little ironic when you stop to think about it… 😉
So the Aussies have a talent for getting and great love of having the day off…and we think they’re a better people for it.
But for whatever reason it actually exists, the fact that Australia celebrates Easter with a 4-day holiday really gave us some insight into our own national identity and the assumptions that come along with being American. In Australia people plan for Easter, they travel and no one is surprised when Easter comes around because people talk about it for weeks beforehand – it’s a major national holiday after all!
And we can’t help but notice that Easter is also the major and central holiday of the Christian calendar. The time we, as Christians, celebrate the events that established the basic tenants of our faith.
And as Christians from the United States, both of us have been exposed, time and again, to the claim that the US is a “Christian nation”.
We are a “Christian nation” that has for centuries now made no major official national notice of Easter.
But before we are too quick to blame the past and present governments – we are also a “Christian nation” where, despite their ability to do so of their own free will, the overwhelming majority of citizens who are also Christians will not even take a single day off work in order to travel to family, have some sort of major celebration or remembrance of this most important, and sacred, days of the year.
And that is fascinating.
Thanks to ABC…the Australian one.
It comes back to a simple question. A question so basic in its assumptions that it caused us to stop and reevaluate the very way we perceive our actions and what they say about our faith:
So how are you spending your
(Hopefully, it’s with bacon!)
Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures. If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, 3-day delays for wine tastings, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at www.CoastGuardCouple.com!