(Contributed by Mike)
Canadians as a whole aren’t particularly patriotic. Oh, to be certain we are proud and happy to be Canadians, but compared to our brothers and sisters south of the border, Canadians are usually more reserved. In fact, it’s been joked that the only time Canadians are truly patriotic is when we want to explain how UNLIKE the Americans we are!
Consider two national holidays, from two different countries, which celebrate two similar (but also vastly different) events. Canada Day falls on July 1st. Originally called Dominion Day, it marks the day the British North America Act of 1867 was enacted, turning the Eastern half of Canada from three colonies to a country. Canada Day is day of celebration, with plenty of flag-waving, firework shooting, and maple leaves painted on cheeks. But I get the sense that overall, it’s a quieter affair than what comes three days later.
In the US, the fourth of July is called Independence Day, and it marks the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted, making the US a country, rather than colonies of Britain. In the US as well, flags are waved and fireworks are shot, but it is on a scale much larger and louder than Canada Day. In a way, the Fourth of July feels more significant.
Part of the reason for this difference may lie in the cultural identity of Canadians and Americans. A central idea for Americans is the cultural melting pot; people from around the world bring their own ideas, customs, and beliefs to America, and this becomes part of American culture. Those who call the US home are first and foremost Americans, and their ethnic backgrounds contribute to this idea. So Independence Day is a day to celebrate America and what it means to be America.
On the other hand, Canada’s cultural identity can be described as a cultural quilt; a blanket made of many different and unique squares, woven together to make something greater. We are Canadian, but we are also Japanese, Chinese, Italian, or Croatian. So Canada Day is a day to celebrate Canada as a country, but what exactly that means may be different from person to person.