Help! It’s International Day!

All around the expat world this cry goes up at least once a year. Or at least, it does in British households. Where we have no national costume.

Our International Day is on Friday and it will be the first I have had to endure plan for since I myself was a child attending the International School of Manila in the Philippines. There weren’t a lot of Brits at the school in those days – we were outnumbered by the Americans and then by Australians/New Zealanders and Asians. So we were always a small group traipsing around the parade ground – although our numbers were slightly bulked out by the fact that there were four of us children in our family.

But every year we had the same dilemma. What on earth were we going to wear? All these years on, I actually have no recollection as to what we actually did wear in the end – although I know friends of ours cheated slightly and wore Scottish kilts. Even though I don’t think they had a drop of Scottish blood in them. But at least their costumes were recognisable.

What gets me is those countries that have these amazing, beautiful national costumes. It just doesn’t seem fair that some children get to dress up like goddesses – and we have what? Raincoats? Some would say though that this means we just have to be a bit more…imginative. And I know from previous discussions in a Facebook group this has led to children being dressed as punks, Harry Potter, Victorians, Tudors….in fact – here’s a thought! Maybe we should just recycle some of the outfits we used for those endless dress-up days back home, where one daughter was a young Edward VI and another a poor Victorian child in her nightdress.

Is this traditional British dressing up?

Is this traditional British dressing up?

Instead though we will be doing what I suspect many of my fellow English parents do all around the world and resorting to national colours or flags. We have a “Geri Spice Girls” Union Jack dress left over from a hallowe’en that we accidentally ended up in Florida for one year (a long story – maybe it will make it on to this blog one day as a Memorable Journey post). My youngest still fits into this so that’s her sorted. As for the older daughter, I dug out an old “England” t-shirt from one of the various football tournaments we have failed to progress in over the years which now seems to fit her. We also have a large England flag from the same event. My only worry is, wearing an England shirt and carrying an England flag does have underlying associations with football hooliganism. Which actually…..now, there’s an idea…..

So how about you? Got an International Day coming up? Have you had to come up with any ingenious solutions to dress your child in? Or do you come from one of those smug countries with its own national costume?

Photo credit: Kalexander2010

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11 thoughts on “Help! It’s International Day!

  1. I’m pretty sure we have no American costume in the US either πŸ™‚ In all our years of international school, there hasn’t been a dress up day where you wear something from your country. International Food Fair – yes… dress up day – no. I’m feeling pretty thankful for that right now!

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  2. Totally agree with you – Pearly Kings and Queens, Morris Dancing costumes or a Cath Kidson pinny are other available options. But they border on twee rather than gorgeous, so Spice Girls and Football hooligans it may have to be. On the plus side we Brits tend to fair better with our fare though. Strawberries and cream and Pimms (for more grown up events) are big crowd pleasers.

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      • Don’t joke about the Beatles.I once had to wear a silver suit and a wig in the annual Lagos expat version of Eurovision-meets-International Day called ‘Small World’. Lots of food and lots of grown up drinks. Four of us girls were the Beatles miming a medley of hits and three very game, very middle aged men dressed as 60’s go-go dancers and busted out some moves. I’d forgotten all about it until your comment. Must see if I have a photo somewhere. Hilarious.

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  3. My kids aren’t going to an International School but I have already been worded up to do a presentation during Multicultural Week. Australia does not have a national dress either – I guess they could dress as convicts!!!!!

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  4. Oh yeah! When the kids were little, we stuck them into Lederhosen, and they looked very cute AND dressed up. But as soon as they had any kind of social recognition, maybe around age 8 or so, they refused to EVER put those on again. What was always popular on international days, however, when they were looking for us to have a unique German booth, was the food. I’d bring fresh bread and Nutella and smear the one on the other and hand out little pieces, and that always proved popular. Never mind that Nutella I think is actually Swiss, or Italian. It’s the German national food as my husband is concerned…

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