Wednesday, 7 September 2011

September song

Thank goodness August is over and September has arrived. August was a hard month here, more like February than the August we used to know. Grey and cold, no respite from work and school, no hint of the holidays...
September by contrast has arrived along with early blossom on the trees, distinctly warmer air and the promise of a break coming up soon. Yes September is of course the southern hemisphere's equivalent of March, the beginning of the end of winter with the rebirth and renewal we usually associate with Easter. Here though the big holiday coming up soon is Fiestas Patrias, a huge patriotic bonanza to celebrate Chile and everything Chilean to mark Chile's independence and its military glory. Last year the girls and I had just staggered off a plane two days before the country closed down for four days to celebrate two hundred years of Chile's existence as an independent republic. Obviously the significance of that event was somewhat lost on us at the time as we struggled to focus on where we were, what time it was and where to buy household essentials. Almost one year on and it is now clear to us that this is the biggest event in the Chilean social calendar. DD1's school closes for a ten-day break between terms 2 and 3 next week while both girls are busy practising traditional songs and dances dressed up in national costume for shows and parties to be shared with parents and teachers alike. Supermarkets have been full of the aforementioned national costumes as well as balloons, paper plates and other party equipment including barbecue materials in the colours of the Chilean flag. Clearly for us this is all extremely interesting from the point of view of culture, history and folklore which doesn't belong to us in the slightest. Not sure how I would feel about it if I were Chilean; presumably things would be a good deal more complex in that case. At the moment I've just had to kit my children out in the appropriate gear (some of which I am still unsure whether I actually have correctly understood or not) and listen to them singing about how beautiful and wonderful Chile is. Quite endearing in a way, especially to an outsider... DH's ardent students meanwhile have decided to postpone all major decisions such as whether to lift their boycott on this term's lectures and seminars until after Fiesta Patrias is over. Quite right too... evidently like all students since the dawn of time the would-be revolutionaries don't want to miss a good party.

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