***additional galleries: a day off in the lives of europe
It would be fair to say that most European countries have one or two fixed calendar dates when its citizens unite in order to commemorate an event of national significance. In Finland the population head for the coast to light bonfires and get married during Midsummer. Orange is the colour on the streets and canals of Amsterdam during Queen's Day, the Netherlands Mardi Gras while Ireland becomes a mass of green on St. Patrick's Day. In France for Bastille Day on the 14th of July families relax on the beach. Throughout Norway on the 17th May, flag waving processions snake its length with residents wearing garments reflecting identity and national pride. On the national day of Poland in November a more restrained remembrance of independence takes place with military parades through the capital Warsaw, in Belarus, picnics are toasted with vodka while wine and music prevail across Italy on its national day in June. In the Czech Republic the Pomlazka tradition unfolds each Easter Monday. Every last man and boy has the right to go and cut a big willow stick to whip the womenfolk to chase away evil spirits. By witnessing a Day Off in the Lives of Europe, part of a countries history can be revealed by what is chosen to commemorate and something of its present can be revealed by the way in which its people take part. Collectively, a continent can be profiled, one rich in character, of shifting boundaries and priorities, peppered with contradiction yet united in the need to understand its heritage and revere its future.