More and more people - journalists or simply friends - ask me why Romanians do not feel the National Day as a true holiday meant to involve them in a common and solemn feeling. I have often thought we are different from other nations regarding our relationship - a personal authentic one, and not a formal and rhetorical one - with the day of December 1 and, in general, with the nation's traditional symbology.
The sole test regarding a whole-hearted participation in a common holiday, the only one giving a real measure of how a day of shared joy is made one's own, is the test of interdiction. For 45 years, Christmas or Easter had not existed officially, one was not well thought of if s/he celebrated them openly. Nonetheless, we have stubbornly celebrated them, not only because they were traditional Christian holidays, but also because they were our holidays which "they" - the State, the Party, the authorities - had banned. I was a student in the last high-school form when I don't know what stupid Party activist came with the idea to oblige recuperate a school day that, for I don't know what reason schools had been closed, and to bring us to classes on Easter Sunday. The result was sensational: no one was dressed in uniform, we all brought red eggs and sponge cake at school, teachers didn't teach the lessons they had to, telling us, instead, all kind of tales and stories: I still remember the Latin class we had with distinguished and our dear departured teacher Gh. Gutu. He used to be of a merciless exigency. Anyway, that Easter Sunday, he brought us for reading and translating ancient anecdotes and he explained to us all kind of unusual etymologies. It is strange, but no one had to bear consequences, the school management was wise enough to pretend not seeing, and the usual informers - we had a horrid Music teacher, who used to inform on his colleagues for lack of vigilance - remained speechless. A kind of universal oecumenism fully joined us in responsibility. We had Catholic colleagues, Armenians and Jews, who were celebrating Easter in their families at different dates and ways, but there was nothing to go above a unanimous feeling of a forbidden holiday we didn't accept to give up.
Collective memory is not so amnesic as to forget that, for decades on end, the National of the Socialist Republic of Romania was on August 23, an event as controversial as possible, nor that choosing, sixteen years ago, the day of the Great Union, was not by far an occasion meant to unify us "in both minds and feelings". The newly elected Parliament of Romania was, at that time, the scene of severe confrontations between the feeble Opposition, proposing for the national day the anniversary of the Revolution, and the FSN (the Front of National Salvation) majority - the profiteers of the Revolution - who stuck to December 1, to get rid of 16-21 and to mock at UDMR (Democratic Union of the Hungarians in Romania). Later on, the uproar moved to the largest scene of the country, where thick and prolonged booing, which the President and the PM smilingly encouraged, have changed December 1 into an occasion of national discord in the purest spirit of the class struggle.
We might have had, in 1990, the chance to get used to the alphabet of a civic democratic solidarity of our nation. We might have had the chance to make our own the symbology of the loyalty towards sharing the same country. We might have had much many other chances Iliescu regime made us fail during those inaugural years. This one was a failure too and December 1 has remained but a political festivity, winter solstice of our disunion. Many of us would celebrate the National Day in illegality. Being free, we should each be proud of ourselves so that we may be proud of sharing the same country, but we are not. For ever frustrated, we show off a contempt depleting all celebration.