Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Calender Gurl

I spent the Fourth of July having perhaps one of the worst job interviews, one of those interviews that gets cited for "How NOT to Have an Interview" articles on job-hunting sites. To be fair, what the people were looking for wasn't clearly expressed in the advert, so I didn't feel too bad about losing it once I realized they wanted someone with a lot more chemistry in their background. It was not a celebration, unless you count the beer I had at the end of a draining day as my version of a drunken orgy, and it most emphatically did not have fireworks.

I had a few problems adjusting to holidays in the Netherlands. Because Karel works shifts, he has a very irregular schedule and is just as likely to have to work a weekend as he is to have Wednesday free. When I lived in the US, holidays were a way to mark the passage of time: New Year's was the start of the new year; St. Patrick's meant spring was just around the corner; Memorial Day meant I could start wearing white; July 4 was the midsummer; Labor Day meant school started; and Thanksgiving meant that I was in deep trouble if I hadn't gotten together my Christmas list.

Most of the holidays in the Netherlands are religious, with the exception of New Year's and Liberation Day. And as such, it is impossible to set them to any date, as Easter Monday, Ascension Day, and the second day of Pentecost are X days after Day Y. These are more-or-less universally Christian holidays, and thus are recognized by the entire country, but Carnival and St. Maartens are more regional. Carnival is mainly in the south--in Nijmegen we have a token celebration, but most of the shops don't even bother to close--while St. Maartens is observed in the northern provinces as well as Maastricht. The latter is explained by the fact that Sint Maarten coincides with the harvest; the north is largely agrarian. The Dutch version of the Wiki page says the tradition (making lanterns, singing songs, getting candy) is spreading throughout the rest of the Netherlands, but it could be that the writer is getting confused with Halloween celebrations, since some small enclaves of expats rig trick-or-treat routes for their kids.

The funny thing about holidays in the US and in the Netherlands: in the US, people purport to be Christians and say "God Bless America" and all that stuff, but they don't celebrate the Ascension, or the Pentecost; and indeed, unless you're a priest, I doubt you'd know when to do so. In the Netherlands, religion is one of those things you're expected to have but not to share, lest you be mistaken for an evangelicizing prick, and yet the Ascension and Pentecost are marked holidays.

*This jellyfish shot is the only one that has red, (a little) white, and blue.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still confused about the holidays in the Netherlands. I don't know if I'll ever work them out.