Granted, public holidays in Europe don’t always make sense, either. They are usually a mixture of Christian days (like Christmas and Easter) and nationally important days (like Reunification Day in Germany or Kings Day in the Netherlands), with some odd ones in there as well (like Labour Day). But the public holiday we have here in Melbourne today really takes the cake.
To be fair, Australia does have some of the above mentioned, “normal” public holidays, with ANZAC day being one of their national holidays. But today is nothing like that. Today, in Melbourne, it is Grand Finals Day. It’s the first year in which this is actually a public holiday, and it is there, because… well… there’s Footy on. The Grand Finals! Well… at least… there is going to be…
But today, there is the Grand Finals Parade, where the players of the two finalists of this years Footy season (the Hawthorn Hawks and the West Coast Eagles) parade down a rather short stretch of road from the Old Treasury Building to Yarra Park. About 50,000 people are expected to show up and watch. And for this we are having a public holiday. Weird people, these Aussies. 🙂
Then again, at least Footy is a sport that has a pretty big following in this country, and especially here in Victoria. So I guess I can sort of understand why they close down the city for it. (Although the public opinion is that we should rather have the Monday after off, to take care of the hangover.)
But the really far-out, sports related public holiday is coming up in about a month, on the first Tuesday of November. It’s the day that the “race that stops the nation” is held. It is going to be time for the Melbourne Cup! Yes, you read that right. There is a public holiday in Victoria because of a horse race. A horse race.
OK, it might be one of the richest races out there, and it might have been happening since the late 19th century, but, I mean, really?! And you already start seeing advertisements in restaurants that offer a multi-course “Cup Lunch” on that day for about twice as much as they would normally charge for their food. Designed in posh lettering and glitter.
I guess we’ll have to see on the day, but for now I find this a pretty strange reason for a public holiday. Or maybe just very Oz.
Or possibly both.
…I love this country.