National Day – To Change Or Not To Change?

WE are at that time again – on the verge of celebrating National Day, and as much as it will be a different type of celebration this time around, thanks to COVID-19, the age-old debate over whether the term ‘National Day’ better suits February 22 rather than December 13, continues.

It’s a debate which has consumed many historians some of whom believe that February 22, the day Saint Lucia attained its Independence from Great Britain, should be regarded as the rightful National Day.

But as significant as February 22 is – some call that day the birth of a new nation – significance should also be attached as well to December 13, because it was on that day – so the story is told – Saint Lucia was discovered and given the name it is still known by up to today.

We are fully aware that attempts in some quarters have been made to debunk, discredit the story of the discovery of Saint Lucia by Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century on December 13. However, we are also aware that these efforts have not created a change in country regarding the honour given to that day.

Where then do we go from here?

Do we continue business as we have always known it, meaning celebrate both days when they come up or, do we reserve the title ‘National Day’ for December 13 only, just as we always have done?

Before we answer our own question let us focus on the definition of ‘National Day’. Wickipedia defines it as a day in which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or state. It may be the date of independence, of becoming a republic, or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler (such as a birthday, accession, or removal).

Merriam Webster defines national day as a day having significance for and usually celebrated throughout a nation.

Whichever way one may slice it, a national day is a very special and important day for a nation, one where citizens celebrate their country. It is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation which could be symbolized by the date of independence, a date for becoming known, (as in the disputed story of Columbus), or the significant date of a patron saint.

This brings us back to our original question. Where do we go from here with the debate suggesting we give prominence to February 22 rather than December 13?

After due consideration we suggest the following: Why not have two national days. While most countries have one national day each year, not all do. For instance, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have more than one.

We are already a unique small island with our volcanic peaks, drive in volcano, a culture that includes the speaking of two languages side by side (English and Kweyol), two airports for our size, two Nobel Laureates, and a host of other special attributes, achievements etc., that having two national days falls right in line with our uniqueness.

This may come as yet another footnote to our message to the world of how simple beautiful and unique Saint Lucia is. After all, not many countries in the world can lay claim to such. Maybe our tourism people could take note and add this to their list of twos when publicizing Saint Lucia.

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