Between birth and dead
A different culture
by, 11-22-11 at 07:28 PM (2312 Views)
Thanksgiving is coming up. The only reason that I know this is that the people on my Google+ seem really excited about it. I have no idea what thanksgiving actually is, except that people get around and eat a lot. So, to me, it doesn't differ from Christmas much. (Not counting religions.)
If I would be as excited about Sinterklaas people who aren't from the Netherlands will be equally confused. A holiday with a Santa Claus look-a-like who comes from Spain to the Netherlands on a boat, every year, with his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) and hands out presents? Why do you even want to celebrate that. What? The story goes that the Zwarte Pieten are black because they travel through the chimney's so they can put presents in SHOES? Really? And that Santa Claus look-a-like travels on a horse over the roofs? Really?
There's something typically Dutch about this holiday. Sinterklaas comes to the Netherlands to celebrate his own birthday on December 5th, by giving presents to the children. Yes, he gives presents instead of receiving them. It's Dutch tradition to bring a cake to work (or school) when it's your birthday. Yes, you are the one who has to bring a treat. You do get presents!
I never thought that much about the cultural differences. It's something we don't normally do here. It was Google+ that got me to think about it. Something about Dutch licorice (drop). Turns out that is a typically Dutch thing, a candy we enjoy, but isn't available that much in other countries. And I realized that the whole three kisses on the cheeks as a normal greeting isn't that normal at all. Or congratulating family and friends of someone who's birthday it is. "Congratulations with the birthday of your best friend" probably sounds stupid. It's completely normal to me. What about that I live about 6 meters under sea level, trusting the dikes around me completely, never even thinking about it. Even worse, I live on land that used to be sea less than a century ago.
The internet has influenced a lot of things. When reading books translated in the '80's, there are notes explaining what cheerleaders are and other things that seem completely normal these days. I've gotten so used to the online culture, which is a culture of it's own, that I sometimes forget that there are cultural differences between the countries that make up the Western World. And that one day, those differences will probably be gone and forgotten.
You can go celebrate thanksgiving without me. I will buy myself some chocolate covered pepernoten and enjoy them, whilst you still be wondering what the hell those things are. Really, Sinterklaas candy is the best candy!