By Eula Mengullo, November 14 2020—
Once the months of the year that end with -ber (or brrrr…) start setting in, time swiftly blows by with the autumn breeze and before we know it, another Halloween has passed. That means the holiday season has officially commenced, right?
Growing up in the Philippines, Christmas has always been a festive holiday for me. Back home, it is regarded as the most eventful time of the year, with neighbours listening to Christmas songs and setting up their Christmas trees as early as the peak of October. The malls would be booming with Christmas carols, decorated with beautiful, shimmering holiday ornaments, while bright lights lit up the streets every night.
This is the environment that I grew up being accustomed to.
However, growing up in Canada, I eventually realized how skipping ahead to the holiday festivities after October can be considered disrespectful.
Upon immigrating, I carried this conception that the next grand event to anticipate after Halloween would be Christmas. Every year, after enjoying Halloween, I felt elated because it would “officially” be the beginning of the holiday festivities; or so it seemed — only if I was still living on the other side of the world.
A few years back, I encountered a short Facebook post about the importance of holding off on the holiday festivities until after Remembrance Day. This quickly resonated with me as I realized that I, subconsciously, have been guilty of not giving enough importance to this memorial day.
Similarly, from mere observations, I found that this was also common amongst some individuals in Canada. However, for many immigrants, I think that this can be mainly attributed to the lack of historical background and information rather than apathy. As shocking as it is, some immigrants may not know the true importance of Remembrance Day. They may be aware that it is a statutory holiday celebrated annually, but may not profoundly recognize the significance it holds in Canada.
By definition, Remembrance Day is a memorial day celebrated in Commonwealth states, including Canada, to commemorate war veterans that fought in the First World War. However, it is also a general day to solemnly recognize the efforts of millions of war veterans who defended the security of their countries.
Some Canadian high schools — during pre-pandemic conventionality — held formal assemblies consisting of a memorial tribute to honour Canadian war veterans. Consequently and most significantly, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a two-minute moment of silence is held to earnestly remember the ultimate sacrifice of the men and women who served, and continue to serve our country, in line of duty.
As an immigrant, I highly value the degree of liberty and opportunities that Canada has provided me. It has given me access to a broad range of possibilities that I may not otherwise have received had my family not immigrated. In hindsight, however, I also acknowledge that these privileges we all enjoy would not exist if not for the individuals who served to protect Canada at the front lines. Therefore, I think we rightly owe it to our veterans, and Canada herself, to demonstrate some form of solidarity by properly recognizing this memorial day.
It does not have to be grand — in fact, it could be as simple as wearing a poppy, making a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion or educating oneself on the significance of the holiday to understand its meaning and purpose. Especially now with the restrictions on mass gatherings, what really matters is our sincerity in honouring our war veterans’ notable contributions to our Canadian society. Hence, I contend that it is only appropriate that we reserve the holiday festivities until Remembrance Day has passed. By doing so, we can fully appreciate the day of memorial rightfully entitled to the individuals that preserve this country we call home.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.