This year in New Zealand, a couple of public holidays have been concertinaed into one mid-autumn long, long weekend. Easter has fallen later than usual and Anzac Day has overlapped with Easter Monday. Both these commemorations have different levels of significance to diverse groups of people. For some it is a chance to have a couple of days off work, attend special events such as music festivals or car rallies, or catch up on some gardening or neglected jobs around the house before winter sets in. For others it has been a welcome opportunity to spend time with family, friends or comrades-in-arms. Many people have come together to observe quite distinct days that have deep meaning and significance to them. There have been small and large religious services and varied ceremonies of remembrance all around the country; both joyous celebration and solemn ritual drawing together young and old for a common purpose.
Ordinary life has slowed down for a few days and there has been the opportunity, if we chose to take it, to contemplate some of the symbolism and the various concepts involved. Words such as courage, sacrifice, love, hope and renewal spring most readily to mind. Identifying with a cause or being part of something that has deeper and higher meaning beyond the individual and the everyday are notions I have pondered.
There are a mix of images from the varied celebrations – young children excitedly hunting for chocolate eggs in the damp grass and dignified elderly men and women holding their heads high, marching in step in the cold dawn mist; traditional hymns performed on a cathedral organ or the sombre, haunting notes of The Last Post played by a lone bugler; families gathered together around the meal table and colleagues meeting and reminiscing about times gone by.
What has been most meaningful to you over this holiday time?