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Kansas City's Irish Festivals, Music, Pubs & Events

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bloomsday Under Threat

Bloomsday, June 16, 1904 - the date of the setting of Ulysses, and celebrated for about seventy years - might be getting a new holiday for a neighbour.

In Britain, Chancellor Gordon Brown recently called for a new day for their national identity, saying the UK needed a day to celebrate "who we are and what we stand for".

In a surprise result of a poll conducted by the BBC History magazine, the anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta has been chosen as the best date to celebrate Britishness.

Chosen by 27%, the anniversary of the Magna Carta proved more popular than the Second World War dates of VE Day or D-Day, or even anything to do with British military history. That constitutional rather than something jingoistic is preferred is as brilliant as it is startling

Magna Carta is a collection of papers which in theory limited the power of the monarch and gave ordinary people rights under common law. It doesn't matter any more that they were largely copied from a charter 100 years older, or how much has been repealed since.

What matters is the date - 15 June, 1215, because by some considerable time this predates the Union that is the United Kingdom, in all its forms. Is it possible when pushed on the question of UK-ness, that its citizens don't actually know who they are and what they stand for?

And because I live in a region of the world infected with a work ethic that causes most of its holidays to be celebrated on the nearest weekend rather than a school night, the date means before heading off to indulge in a keg of fine American beer, while I'm trying to visualize how many thousand miles it is to the nearest snot-green sea, I'll likely have to answer questions on why I am (or am not) celebrating the history of due process and the Bill of Rights.

It's enough to put you off your kidneys.

See also:
     • St George's Day
     • Kansas City's Bloomsday Books
     • Bloomsday in Kansas City


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