The Day of …?

Two of the most important civic dates in the history of a country – the Republic and Flag Day – are celebrated this month in Brazil. Republic Day is on November 15th and four days later, on November 19th there is the Flag Day.

Although both are significant dates, with parades and even a holiday for Republic Day, neither popularity nor recognition are common Brazilian feelings these days. It’s pretty hard to find one person who could explain how it exactly came about to the republican regime in Brazil. People can explain the symbolism of the flag a little, but just don´t ask them about the meaning of the words ORDER AND PROGRESS (in the historical context they were conceived). Most part of them won´t have any idea of the answer.

The repercussion of civic dates such as these is certainly a little higher at least in schools, where the subject is studied every year, unfortunately not always a in very a different way than the year before. Luckily there are some educators who are more aware, and who enjoy challenging students to an early exercise of self-reflection: Is Brazil really a federal republic? Which values are represented in our Flag?

Learned once in a lifetime at school, the Flag´s and the National anthems are later a mystery to most of the adult population. This fact has turned into a laughing-stock and is becoming an annual theme for some TV reports. On the streets of one big city, a reporter asked normal citizens to sing – if possible – the anthems, or just one of them. Many do not want to disappoint and try. The results are comic, to say the least.

It is not that Brazilians do not feel proud of their country, its flag or its national symbols. It´s the opposite. The fifth world´s largest population is happy at home – as many researches show – and likes to be Brazilian. Because of the country´s natural exuberance, soccer, samba or the usual joy – just like in the stereotype, which, yes, is our trademark overseas.

Paradoxical as it may seem, for the majority of Brazilians it doesn´t matter which day the Republic is celebrated on, what matters is to celebrate it. Likewise, common sense says there is no use knowing exactly how many stars are on our flag. Being aware of these dates and facts is seen as a mere formality. To wear yellow-green proudly and defend the homeland whenever needed – as in a soccer match, for example – is much better. Civic dates are important because we can celebrate them – just as simple as that.

In the so-called “country of the future”, Brazilians are used to live the present without any major concern about the past and its meanings.


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