At this time of year, a lot of New Zealanders tend to bemoan the increasing popularity of Hallowe’en. They regard it as an alien, commercialized American import with no real connection to this country – even though, thank goodness, Hallowe’en seems to be replacing an equally alien, commercialised British import called Guy Fawkes Day, which also has no genuine connection to this country. At least the American import offers more dressing up options for children, and doesn’t involve the terrorising of animals via fireworks. Such is social progress.
Otherwise, one of the peculiar aspects of the holidays and celebrations on our public calendar is the virtual meaninglessness (and/or divisiveness) of most of them. Easter and Queens Birthday for instance, have retained virtually none of their original meaning. Nor do the anniversary holidays that celebrate the joys of provincial identity. By contrast, Anzac Day has regained a good deal of meaning after decades of steadily losing relevance. Waitangi Day ( which is the closest thing we have to a national day) still polarizes the nation as much as it unites it. Arguably, that’s a good thing – in that it signifies how much work still needs to be done before there are grounds for outright celebration, for everyone. Read the rest of this entry »