Did you, like me, spend the long weekend singing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the top of your lungs at every possible moment? Did you dust and polish the picture of Her Royal Highness hanging in pride of place on your lounge-room wall? Did you get the best china from the cupboard, prepare a lovely spread with cake and sandwiches, raise a cup of tea to Her Majesty and wish her a happy birthday?
No? Of course you didn’t. I didn’t either. Like you, I was grateful for an extra day of my weekend. I spent a bit longer in bed, stayed up a little later in the evenings, watched the Black Caps enjoy some success in the test match in England. I don’t think I gave the Queen too much thought.
It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks’ time. In order to celebrate I have decided that not only I, but the whole of New Zealand, will get an extra day off that weekend. I don’t particularly like Fridays so, instead of Monday (like we’ve just had), we’ll have a day off at the end of the week. The big supermarkets and shops across the country will hold sales in my honour (I’m worth at least 25% discount in most shops), the army in Wellington will fire the cannons to salute my life so far. It will be called the Ben Egerton Birthday Weekend.
I wish… But it raises some interesting points:
Firstly, why does an old lady in London celebrating her birthday (and, let’s face it, it’s not even her real birthday) get to give us a day off? They don’t even celebrate her birthday in England – they carry on working.
Secondly, why – in the 21st Century, and in an independent country – are we still observing the birthday of someone who lives overseas and has little to do with what happens here? Especially as we’re having discussions at the moment about changing the flag and removing the Union Jack, why are we clinging to traditions and pretending that we are all still willing and loyal servants of the Queen?
Thirdly, and perhaps a little more complicatedly, if you are a supporter of the Queen and you want to celebrate her long and glorious life then go ahead and have a day off. If you are not a supporter and want New Zealand to no longer be influenced by London, then you should not have a long weekend, should attend school or go to work. You can’t have it both ways.
Personally, I think the perfect solution is that you can have a day off school when you are celebrating your own birthday (or the nearest Friday if your birthday falls at the weekend). But you shouldn’t be celebrating someone else’s birthday by taking a day off.
That’s just being cheeky.
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students: [/colored_box] [colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Why do we get a day off to celebrate the monarch’s birthday?
2. Some people are in favour of the Royal Family, some think they shouldn’t be involved in New Zealand. If that’s the case, should everyone get the benefit of a long weekend?
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”green”]Practical Task:
1. If we were to rename the long weekend to honour another New Zealander, who would you choice be? Find out about who could fit the part. Research into the life of famous New Zealander and argue for your choice in front of your class.
2. Why does the Queen have an official birthday?
3. If the country had a holiday in honour of your birthday, how would it celebrate?
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: [socialpoll id=”[socialpoll id=”2274732″] [/colored_box]