With today being Tynwald Day, the national day of the Isle of Man, and yesterday being Independence Day for Americans, it seems as good a time as any to write about what I've seen in Germany recently in relation to a massively boosted sense of national pride. Or at least visible national pride.
When I first arrived to live in Germany I didn't really notice it. But after a while, and after travelling to a few other places, I noticed a distinct lack of something here in Germany. Flags. Wherever I went there were very few black, red and gold German flags. It was only every now and then that it struck me how few and far between they seemed to be.
Then, in the run up to the World Cup here in Stuttgart, flags started to appear much more regularly. I think it's only natural that football would bring out people's desires to show their support for their team, especially when there are so many other countries coming to visit, each of whom will be doing exactly the same. But it's very strange to suddenly see so many flags, when previously there had been so few.
The sight of so many German flags around has been quite an impressive sight - and actually quite moving. It's not until you talk to local people about the distinct lack of flags - and sudden influx - that you start to realise how difficult it is for some to feel comfortable identifying with such a sense of national pride. The flag, and national pride, still seems to worry some people a little. Often where flags are flown, or identities associated with, they are of the region and not of the country as a whole.
As an outsider, or Auslander as we're known here, it's great to see that national pride, and from people I've spoken to, it gives them perhaps that little boost to know that outsiders see German people's national pride as a really positive thing.
This situation could well be different dependent on where in the country you are, and who you speak to, but it's something I've found fascinating, especially since the onset of the World Cup. It'll be interesting to see what happens with all the flags after the game has finished. I for one hope they keep flying high everywhere you look.