Monday is Australia Day, the Down Under equivalent of July 4. It marks the moment on Jan. 26, 1788, when Gov. Arthur Phillip unfurled the Union Jack and claimed the colony of New South Wales for the British crown.
It is an odd day for a national holiday, because it's hardly the commemoration of a noble declaration of independence. After all, Phillip was there with his contingent of convicts and redcoats who had come over from England on the First Fleet to establish a penal colony. (They might have gone to the American colonies otherwise but you people had earlier caused the British to search elsewhere). The aboriginals who had been in the continent from the dawn of time were not consulted.
None of this is ideal but Jan. 26 comes in summer in the Southern Hemisphere, making it perfect for beer drinking, throwing things on the barbie and going to the beach. In short, most people say "no worries" to the question of historical baggage.
In Pittsburgh, the resident Aussies, which I estimate number about 100, many of them associated with the universities or Alcoa, usually celebrate Australia Day on the closest weekend next to the day - this weekend. Last year, we had a private room at the aquarium. We drank like fish but we had designated pikers to drive us home,
This year the day creeped up on us. Only today, I received an invitation for drinks on Saturday evening at Roland's in the Strip District. I am hoping to attend but, as of this writing, negotiations are proceeding with Mrs. H., the lovely Priscilla, whose idea of a good time is not spending an evening with a bunch of Aussies yelling "Up the old red rooster and more booze" and "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy." I can't understand her sometimes.
Whatever happens, let me be the first to wish my blog readers "goodonya" (good on you) for Oz Day.