Americans tend to think of themselves as some of the greatest celebrators and holiday decorators around, and I admit I’ve felt that way from time to time, but there are a lot of countries that really have us beat.
I’ve celebrated a lot of different holidays in a lot of different places. It never gets less strange seeing palm trees decorated with ornaments or jungle huts strung with tinsel. I’ve celebrated the biggies all over. I’ve done Christmas in Sweden and Australia, put together makeshift Thanksgivings in Ecuador and Australia, and rung in the New Year in Thailand, Sweden and Australia. I’ve also had the fortune to witness the celebrations of countless unique local holidays in other parts of the world. And I always try to get as involved as I can, whether it’s checking out bull fights and riding party buses during Founder’s Day festivities in Quito or wearing a crown of flowers, eating herring and drinking schnapps for Midsommar in Sweden.
There are different ways to bring the holidays alive. The thing that separates countries like the US and Australia from what I consider to be even more festive countries like Thailand and Peru is this: we go all gung ho for our own holidays, but in other countries they go all gung ho for ALL holidays. In the States we go over the top to decorate every public place and every home for, say, Christmas. (Australia, from my experience, seemed to go more over the top in public but less so on a personal level as in decorating their own homes.) (more…)