I live in a country that does not have seasons; the weather remains broadly the same all year round and the dawn and dusk arrive at exactly the same time every morning and evening.
Having grown up with seasons, this lack of them tends to result in the sense of time speeding up with months turning into years, years into a decade and before you know it 12 years have passed.
Seasons offer numerous benefits but breaking up the year is the most significant. In the UK the seasons each have their own distinct weather conditions but more importantly, they are also represented by long-standing historic sports and entertainment events. These break up the monotony of a year; the distinct difference in weather conditions and sporting and cultural highlights between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter create a rhythm and texture to each part of the year that creates a distinct atmosphere, experience and most importantly memory that separates different parts of a calendar year.
This seasonal familiarity and the distinct atmosphere that can be created during a specific portion of the year has been best demonstrated by the atmosphere in England as the English football team has continued to progress through the World Cup. The level of support that has been shown across the country and on social media has been epic and savage in equal measure. For a country renowned around the world for being stereotypically reserved and emotionally stunted the images emanating from England have shown a side of the country that is usually hidden behind closed doors.
The reason for this; the perfect storm of seasonal nostalgia, a heat wave, national pride and lashings of alcohol.
The World Cup in England is always played out in the Summer months and so the World Cup itself tends to be a tournament deeply soaked in seasonal nostalgia. This nostalgia has been further enhanced this time around as the English team has reached the first Semi Final since 1990. This achievement lends people to look back to times past and embrace a rose tinted era that they want to celebrate and remember through the bottom of a pint glass with friends, family and strangers
As a Englishman it should come as no surprise that I cannot get through this article without mentioning weather but undoubtedly the weather also plays a huge part. Good weather during the Summer in England is never guaranteed and so a heat wave is greeted with the sort of delight that would bemuse anybody from a hot country where the never ending hot weather is a cause for despair rather than celebration. This tends to be best shown by the rows of lobster red English sun bathers that litter the beach during a heat wave; a sight that stands in stark contrast to how inhabitants of hot countries treat the sun and instead embrace the shade. This unnatural weather in England tends to loosen everybody’s inhibitions; people can be seen to even smile during such times and with the long nights that Summer provides people can spend time after work and school socialising rather than stuck indoors, as is the case during the Winter, with only Strictly Come Dancing to entertain them.
The surprisingly excellent performance of the team has also provided a rare opportunity for the English to openly demonstrate some national pride; nationalism and celebrating the nation is not a popular pass time in England where local tribalism tends to outweigh a collective national identity for most of the year. And so this surprising run by the English football team has given the nation a rare opportunity to share in a common team and in a shared success. Come September you will see things very much back to normal with the likes of Manchester and Liverpool fans spending their spare time revelling in each others misery.
The icing on this particular celebratory cake is alcohol; the combination of the afore mentioned nostalgia, heat wave and national pride is perfectly complimented by enormous quantities of alcohol that is consumed by the nation.
And so as I wait to watch the Semi Final I am not only admiring the performance of the team but also the fantastic timing of all of these things coming together over the past few weeks to make the atmosphere in the UK truly remarkable, memorable and I said at the outset; savage.