Saturday, January 10, 2004

Someone asked me why there was so little about me trip on this blog. Well, towards the end I noticed the American flags much less.

The religiousness of the whole place was still very evident, however. Church activities seem to make up a part of people's lives.

The last time I went to church before visiting Illinois was last spring...for my grandmother's wake. The priest used the sermon (we're talking a standard Romanian Orthodox sermon of four hours, none of your Western European sissy two-hour sessions) to rail against those of us who failed to attend each Sunday. I shifted weight from one foot to the other. I whispered with my aunt. I teased my new little nephew. Then I didn't even kiss the icons! Bad ass moi. This strikes me as normal church behaviour. But the full house in that US church which I attended on Christmas Eve concentrated on the sermon.

At least the hymnbooks were in English.

One more thing. What's with all the Nativity scenes? I've never seen one on any Vancouver lawn. Beth's brother's family even dressed up as the holy family and shepherds! We Canadians prefer the commercial aspects of Christmas, thank you very much.

Then there was the "Happy Birthday, Jesus" sign.

In 2001, for my students' Christmas quiz in Japan, one of the multiple-choice questions was, "Whose birthday falls on December 25?" Not even the teachers got that one.

The Americans infuse Christmas with a strange religiousness, the Japanese think it is a sort of Valentine's Day when boyfriends take their girlfriends to love hotels. Between these two extremes I say "Heed the example of butter and margarine: both in moderation and you may avoid a heart attack."

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