Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saint John's - a national party

Gilberto Gil, one of the most famous musicians in Brazil, is preparing a record with only Saint John's songs.
Saint John is a national party, he said. A national party indeed. A Catholic country like Brazil has Christmas, Easter to celebrate Jesus's life and death, but it also has all the saints holidays, and Saint John's, with it delicious food and rhythms, is a national favorite.
Schools hold Saint John's parties, children sign up for food, and practice the special dances for a couple of months before the big day. Coloring bonfires, painting your teeth black, sewing non-matching patches in jeans pants and dresses, wearing straw hats and speaking with a draw. And yes, playing with firecrackers! Oh, and the food! The food! The food! Those of us who are not Roman Catholic can choose to participate or not in the religious mass, and even in the festivities - some people in my church did believe a holiday dedicated to John should not be observed at all. But it is our individual choice to refrain, and the whole world does not have to bend to us.
Why is it ok to celebrate religious holidays in Brazil, even for those of us who do not subscribe to the Roman Catholic faith, but it is such a big deal in America to celebrate their own religious holidays and even now their national holidays? However, children get punished for wearing their own flag on the day of a MEXICAN holiday!!!!!
The more I live in the country of freedom, the less free I think we are in here. It is not ok to talk about religion almost anywhere. Religion is offensive. Usually the majority's religion is offensive. So the majority of the people, who subscribe to some type of Christian religion, is not free to express their religiosity in their own country.
That's so frustrating actually. Anything that has the smell of Christianity is banned from school. As a teacher I am always stepping on eggs - can I say this word? Can I talk about this theme? Can I tell the children the girl's soul went to heaven? Should I even be asking this questions? Should I have to ask myself whether or not I can talk to people about their most common beliefs? Should I even have to ask myself whether or not I should talk to people about uncommon beliefs?
Didn't the first European settlers came here looking for a country where no one could tell them they could not express their religion? No one could prevent them from expressing their beliefs?How far have we fallen from that ideal?
We now live in country where one must think twice before he opens his mouth to say anything concerning the spiritual world. A country in which common celebrations are being banned from common places more and more frequently. Christmas at school? Easter at school? God's name at school? Bible at school? Everything is offensive. Everything is bad. Bad? oh, yes, a religion that talks about love and salvation from sin... something has gone terribly wrong with the country of freedom I learned to admire back in Brazil.

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