This weekend was Canada Day. It also happens that the World Cup of soccer is currently on. These events coinciding creates a very surreal experience that I’ve never experienced in any other country.
Twelve years ago, in 2006, I was living in Revelstoke, working as a waiter over the summer, and as Italy won the World Cup, mopeds, mixed with some cars, came down the street waiving Italian flags and laying on their horn.
I can’t remember the exact details of the 2010 World Cup, but in 2012 I remember Swedish, English and Irish flags, among others I’m sure, in Halifax for the Euro Cup.
In 2014, I was travelling between Ottawa and Toronto a lot and everywhere you went, there were cars donned with flags, from Germany, Portugal, France and Italy to Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina.
This morning, I was driving to work and one of the homes I drove past was sporting a Swedish flag, followed by a Facebook post of friends from Ontario sporting English gear.
I’ve lived and travelled to other countries and I’ve never witnessed an abundance of foreign flags anywhere, to the extent that you see it in Canada, especially when mixed with national days of celebration.
In the Netherlands, where I grew up, I don’t think the waving of foreign flags would be a boon on or around King’s Day (and the orange madness). Similarly, I don’t think waving foreign flags would be welcomed in the U.S., let alone on or around July 4.
In Canada, despite the sheer variety of flags displayed and the usual coinciding with Canada Day, I’ve rarely felt it to be a dividing factor.
If anything, it’s been a bonding experience with other Canadians.
Much like hockey, it’s an excellent opportunity to go to a bar or a pub and bond with other Canadians for a few hours.
Unlike hockey, where Canadians will often support the same team (whether that’s Team Canada or whatever Canadian team is still in the running for the Stanley Cup), it may be in support of a vast array of different teams but to some extent that makes it all the more special.
It takes a unique level of maturity to be collectively having a good time, even when supporting different teams/countries.
It’s something that makes me proud of Canada, especially as it usually coincides with Canada Day.