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Celebrating, Argentina-style

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of Argentina's independence. (Yay for all the retrospectives that are sure to come. I love that stuff.)

The country is currently smothered in white and sky blue flags, ribbons, banners and puffy, flowery things, and today is the first day of an extra long weekend, filled with celebratory activities.

Lots of cool stuff is going down - free concerts, exhibits, fairs, publications, soccer games (Argentina vs. Canada, who can guess the outcome of that game?) - but alas, nothing grand is happening here in Macondo, because I live in the middle of nowhere.

(I love that free concerts that shut down major streets and fill gigantic plazas are a part of almost any big celebration here, often featuring some of my favourites, like León Gieco and the late Mercedes Sosa.)

Here in Macondo there will probably be fireworks and lots of horses dressed in flags.

Monster's school is celebrating with a fair next Saturday for playing 'old' games, like the ones that the kids' parents and grandparents might have played way back when. It'll be like a crash course for me in Argentinian childhoods and ideas for the kids' birthday parties - the local versions of Hot Potato, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Duck, Duck Goose.

There are probably lots of creative and critical things going on in many schools. There must be, right? Especially because this is the 200th anniversary, and not the 199th or the 201st. There have got to be students, teachers and even school boards working on some brilliant projects somewhere.

(If you know of any great school May 25th activities, please share!)

This is a good thing, because the standard May 25th school festivities leave a lot to be desired. I can't say I am working with a large sample size here, but the default seems to be boring and highly questionable ways of celebrating this day, presumably in the name of transmitting a love and appreciation for the country and its history.

What are typical May 25th school activities in Argentina?

1. make white and sky blue decorations, paint flags, etc.

2. practice and perform a scene featuring kids or teens dressed up as the following characters:
- 'gauchos' (Argentinian cowboys)
- 'women'
- 'black people' playing the drums (painted black with a burnt cork, I am not joking)
- a 'mulatto person' selling empanadas (painted black with a burnt cork, but supposedly brown)
- a night guard
- a candle salesperson.

Talk about the cultural construction of 'the nation'.

(I am all for speaking up about school things I don't like, but I am going to take a pass this year on being the 'gringa' who comes along and questions this most traditional celebration of this most patriotic day. Maybe I'll be ready to jump in on this one next year).

But enough about schools and awesome cultural offerings that I will be missing out on.

Here is an online treat for those who speak Spanish and are interested in Argentinian history (which just happens to be FASCINATING): you absolutely must check out this spectacular multimedia mural.

It was drawn by the bizarre and brilliant Rep (he has a blog, too), whose talent I have a total crush on. If you click on many of the parts of the mural, you get a little note with basic info, and a click on the note brings you to a short documentary on the event or period it represents. (All this detail just in case you didn't realize it was clickable. Duh.) See also: video archives and resources for teachers.


Katie said...

The multimedia mural is incredibly well done. Thank you for sharing that link!

At the school where my choir practices here in Necochea, there is a class project featuring a large wall-mounted time line with photos and information about various historic events (in addition to the multitude of escarapelas, of course).

Frederick Guyton said...
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