I had stopped and watched the citizenship ceremony for a few moments at the Australia Day festival at Hyde Park a few weeks ago. There were probably twenty to thirty people becoming citizens that day, and Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, called out their names individually and told a brief story about their journey to Australia. Glen hadn’t been asked about his story, and after hearing about it from me, and a bunch of other stories from other people, he really had no idea what to expect… and neither did I. How exciting! I met up with Glen and his partner, David, before the ceremony.
As you can see, Glen dressed up for the occasion. How dapper he looked! Other new citizens opted to take a less formal, more stereotypical Aussie approach to their dress:
Board shorts to become an Australian citizen: LOVE IT! I also loved that Clover Moore did this ceremony as well, as she’s our much-loved mayor AND member of state parliament.
Notice in the picture, there’s a lady in the background by the piano. She was playing jazz while people got their citizenship, and that was a bit out of place. But before the ceremony started, she was playing all sorts of Australian classics, such as Waltzing Matilda. There was also the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair:
The new citizens took either an oath or an affirmation. The difference, you ask? The oath mentions god. The affirmation doesn’t. I was extremely pleased that Glen chose to do the affirmation. In fact, the group doing the affirmation was significantly larger than the group doing the oath. Woohoo! And after that, it was time to get your citizenship. Unlike the small ceremony that I saw on Australia Day, this one was a bit too large to tell everyone’s story. There were over 140 people from over 40 countries, including Glen’s homeland of Ireland, becoming citizens on Friday. In fact, names weren’t even called – everyone just lined up in order, shook the mayor’s hand, and became Australians. And of course, I got it all on video:
Notice at the end how Glen was given a goodie bag as he walked off stage? We had heard lots of different things that people get on their citizenship day. Someone told Glen that he would get a plant. He didn’t. Inside the bag was a small picture book of Sydney, a City of Sydney pen, a voter registration card, a small packet of Vegemite, and a piece of paper outlining how not to die in a rip current.
I’m not joking.
Despite the slightly disappointing contents of the bag, Glen was still all smiles. And where there was once only one Australian, now there are two:
The city had a small buffet after the ceremony with champagne and some traditional Aussie desserts: lamingtons, pavlovas, and Anzac biscuits! I love free food! And so does Jessica - she came along as well:
After the ceremony, we headed to the Australian Hotel. Operating since 1824, the Australian Hotel is Sydney’s longest licensed bar and remains stocked full of dozens of types of Australian beer, making it the obvious place to celebrate a new citizenship. We (I) decided that we needed to have one beer from each of Australia’s six states, starting with a Cascade from Tasmania:
Some Aussie fare to eat: a crocodile pizza along with a Cooper’s from South Australia!
Four more states and then many beers after that… and then some shots too… we were very… very happy…
And when we’re happy, we talk to strangers. Like Jess and I tracking down the dude in the black shirt with the skulls on the back. We saw him at the citizenship ceremony and thought it was just awesome that he was wearing a shirt with skulls on it to get his citizenship. He was Irish as well and therefore far drunker than we were.
I’m pretty confident he had no recollection of us the next day. But that’s ok. He became an Aussie that day too so he was entitled to drink it up.
Now that I know how these things work, I’m looking forward to attending a few other friends’ ceremonies in the next year or two, and then (hopefully) my own in 2014. I better start learning all the words to the national anthem. But until I have them down perfect, I’ll just leave you with this…
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!