Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Special days

Just as some of us like to send cards for every occasion, the Chileans like to have a special day dedicated exclusively to a theme or person, a fact which surprised me at first but now strikes me as a normal aspect of Chilean culture. In the last couple of weeks alone we seem to have had several. 12 October was Columbus Day, a national holiday to commemorate Columbus' first voyage of discovery to the Americas but also reclaimed in South America as el Dia de la Raza in which the indigenous origins of its people is celebrated in colourful and festive style with street parades, often laced with undercurrents of political sentiment.
In the same week a letter from DD1's school announced that Friday was el Dia del Profesor ie Teachers' Day, hence school would be finishing at midday to allow the aforementioned teachers to enjoy their day and indulge in a celebratory lunch. In addition to the early conclusion of the school day, they also decided to hold el Dia del Idolo for the pupils, which meant the children were allowed to come to school dressed up as their favourite idol. Realising Buzz Lightyear was a tall order, DD1 settled for Woody (from Toy Story) instead and was more than happy to dress up as a cowboy, complete with authentic huaso hat...
The following week invitations were issued at DD2's nursery to all grandparents to celebrate el Dia de los Abuelitos that Wednesday. Obviously we explained that DD2's grandparents would have loved to accept but that they were all on the other side of the world in Europe. The least I could do was to go myself to represent the grandparents, not really knowing what to expect but preparing DD2 in her costume of tango dancer that morning I began to have an inkling... Just like for Mother's Day and Father's Day before, Grandparents' Day was actually great fun and as ever showed meticulous attention to detail and careful planning by the nursery staff. DD2 sat demurely on a wooden chair, with her hair pulled back and a huge flower adorning her ear, waiting patiently for her (boy) partner to offer her a rose and lead her by the hand onto the dance floor while authentic Argentinian tango music from the 1930's crackled on what sounded like a real gramophone... Later there was juice, cake and biscuits for the audience to enjoy as they cuddled their little stars and were proudly offered finger-painted tiles as a gift. Much emotion was felt as one of the nursery ladies in charge, still wearing her nursery green apron but with spiky high heels and hair set for the occasion, delivered a heartfelt speech thanking all the grandparents and reminding us of their importance in the lives of the nursery children, assuring them that this was their special day...

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