USA’s Independence Day nearly forgotten in Spain

I suppose it’s more socialization than anything but I feel somewhat ashamed that the Fourth of July NEARLY passed me by here in Madrid, Spain without noticing.

USA’s Independence Days is the 4th of July – EVERY YEAR. I think I nearly missed it last year too. Making such a statement almost makes me fear nasty messages and comments about now I must hate my country (United States of America) or how UNpatriotic I must be for A) forgetting Independence Day and B) for leaving the United States in the first place. Should I care! I guess so. But I’ll probably care less and less with every year the more and more I become assimilated into my new home, my new country, my new culture.

2.5 years have passed since moving to Madrid and the only (Spanish) flag waving you get here are during UEFA European Cup Soccer Championships (YEAH! ¡¡CAMPEONES!!) and Partido Popular (the Spanish conservative party) demonstrations.

While here, I don’t have the constant, daily, hourly reminders of the upcoming 4th of July, no mention of this year’s bigger-and-better fireworks displays, no parades with high school marching bands, no ribs-on-the-grill cook-outs and potato salad, no family get togethers.

And I kind of miss it! The country unites to celebrate its independence from the British. Actually, I don’t think the majority of people in the United States consider the British when celebrating the 4th of July. I’m not even all that sure they’re celebrating our independence. Maybe more so than everything else, we’re just celebrating to celebrate. In some ways, it’s like Saint Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo in the United States – you don’t have to be Irish or Mexico – or even know what you’re celebrating – to celebrate with gusto!

But I have to admit that with my typical midwestern American’s upbringing of flag waving, patriotic movies with patriotic themes, patriotic speeches and patriotic slogans swirling around my head that I do get rather choked-up when a solemn military marching division passes by while carrying the American Flag or even when the National Anthem is sung at the gold medal presentation at the Olympics. I can’t help it. It’s probably a simple result of socialization. We’re taught since birth to be patriotic and so we are. Education and life experiences can somewhat alter this sensation of loyalty but I think it’s always there.

So how did I celebrate the Fourth of July in Spain? I simply called my parents and chatted for awhile. A Spanish friend here in Madrid sent me a text/SMS message wishing me a happy Independence day – which I thought was nice. I didn’t seek out fireworks displays on YouTube, I didn’t make potato salad, I didn’t get together with other Americans here in Madrid – although I did receive and email notice about such a gathering. Nothing really. It nearly passed me by. I guess that’s what happens when you move abroad.

 
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