Birth of a Nation


July 1 is a holiday in Canada, the birthday of our nation. For me, a Canadian living in Germany, it is just another work day.

But I’ve been thinking about my homeland, and what it means to be Canadian. That probably happens to a lot of people when they live in another country for extended periods. We’ll never be natives here, and we ponder what makes us different.

Canadians have a worldwide reputation for politeness. I can see how we got that – we tend not to be as blunt in interacting with others as some cultures can be. Germans, for example, are much more direct, to the point of rudeness. Except they aren’t being rude in German culture.

Today, as we celebrate 153 years together, Canadians think of themselves as a young nation. Except we’re not – that idea is somewhat of a myth. Other countries have been around longer, that is true. But how many can say they have had a continuous form of government for that long? Very few.

The town where I live in goes back more than a thousand years – but there was no Germany back then, just different feudal states. Canada as a nation predates Germany, even if our cities are only a century or two old. German culture may be older, but Canada has a longer history as a nation. (I doubt I would make any friends in Germany by mentioning that.)

That longevity is something Canadians can take pride in, wherever we find ourselves today.  Although you could argue that merely being old is nothing to be proud about.

The fireworks on Parliament Hill tonight will be virtual, not physical. Apparently Canadians can’t be trusted to keep social distancing, so highlights from past fireworks displays will be shown on television instead. I don’t find that very appealing, but I may be in the minority.

So to celebrate Canada Day I may just go for a walk in the Black Forest once I finish my workday, and reflect perhaps on how much I appreciate being Canadian. as flawed as my country can be (and at times it is very flawed), it is still home.

Do you feel that way about your homeland?


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