Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day

On April 20th, 1770, Captain James Cook and the crew of his ship, HMS Endeavour, became the first Europeans to see the east coast of what we now call Australia. He named the land New South Wales, after his homeland of South Wales, and claimed it for Britain.

Back in England, the jails were overflowing with prisoners. Despite the fact that Captain Cook had made contact with the Aborigines, the British declared that New South Wales was uninhabited [no one lived there] and sent 11 ships full of prisoners there to start a colony. These ships are now known as the First Fleet. The First Fleet arrived in Sydney on January 26th, 1788 – 221 years ago today!
A ship like one of the First Fleet in modern-day Sydney Harbour
January 26th is now celebrated as Australia Day, a national public holiday that is marked by special events around the country. Many towns & cities hold special ceremonies & fireworks displays. The Prime Minister of Australia gives a special address to the nation [a speech that is broadcast on TV & radio stations], and special awards are presented to Australians who have done good things. Also on this day, there is usually a special cricket match, as well as some big outdoor music festivals.

The Australian Flag – The Union Jack [British Flag] represents Australia's connection to Britain; the 7-pointed star, the 7 states of Australia; and the other stars, the Southern Cross [ a group of stars you can usually see from the southern half of the Earth].
Not everyone thinks that Australia Day should be a celebration! Aborigines hold “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day” events, protesting the fact that their country was invaded [taken over by force] by the British and celebrating that their people & culture somehow survived.
Some anti-Australia Day graffiti on a wall in the Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney
The Australian Aboriginal Flag – The black represents the people; the red, their land & blood; and the yellow, their sun

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coming-of-Age Day

Today, 20-year-olds across Japan will be celebrating their coming of age. To “come of age” means to become an adult.

Traditionally in England, people were considered to come of age on their 21st birthday. In modern Western countries that used to be English colonies, you are legally [by law] considered to be an adult on your 18th birthday (in some states of America it’s still 21), however, many people still hold a special party for their 21st birthday.

In Australia & New Zealand, 21st birthday parties are big events. All of your friends and family are invited to the party. So many people come to the party, it usually has to be held at a special party hall or in a marquee [a big tent] in the back yard of your parents’ house.

At the party, your father gives a speech in which he formally recognises you as an adult. As a part of this speech, he usually “gives you the keys to the house.” This is showing that you are now an adult, free to choose when you’ll leave and come back home. Key’s are an important symbol at 21st birthday parties.

A Typical 21st Birthday Card

A Key-shaped Birthday Cake

Another common tradition at Australian & New Zealand 21st birthday parties is to scull a yard glass. “To scull” means to drink without stopping. A yard glass is a special beer glass that is about 1 meter long. It holds about 1 ½ to 2 litres of beer.

A Yard Glass

This tradition usually means the 2nd day of your “adult life” is spent nursing an adult-sized hangover!
Coming-of-Age Day is a national holiday in Japan so Be & Me is closed today. Don’t forget that you can check future Be & Me holidays, Be & Me Kids' Model-Lesson Times, and service-lesson times at The Be & Me Calendar. You can also check for future events at the Be & Me Announcements Page.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Welcome Back!

And welcome to the Year of the Cow!

Be & Me classes start again from today. Yippie-ki-yay! (This is cowboy English. It basically means, “let’s go!” It’s famously used by Bruce Willis’s character in the first Die Hard movie.)

Don’t forget that if you want to check out our holiday, Service Lesson, and kids’ model lesson dates and times, you can do so by visiting The School Calendar.

You can also check the same information plus any special events (friend or students’ concerts or exhibitions, parties, and so on) at The Announcements Page.

Many people are feeling very nervous about this year. They are worried about the economy, the environment, terrorism, and so on. However, I think this year is going to be special. I think this year…

Anything is possible!

Here’s wishing you all a great 2009!