Sunday, December 14, 2008

Celebrating Cultural Differences

During my continued observations from a far far away land, it simply amazes me how different some cultures can be. We all occupy the same world but yet we've all got our quirks and I embrace them all. This world would be so boring if we were all the same. One of the things which struck me most about the Dutch culture is how nearly all households leave their window curtains open, even if they lived on the first floor. In Puerto Rico, most houses (mine included) have rejas (it literally means "bars" in spanish) for security concerns. However, in the Netherlands, the windows are usually huge, spotless and available for all to look into. From what I've seen, and based on my experiences with the Dutch, houses are usually kept very clean. It really is quite impressive.

Yesterday, as I was standing in line at a store, I was reminded of yet another interesting Dutch custom. In the U.S and Puerto Rico, when you greet a family member or a close friend, you usually kiss each other on the cheek once. On the other hand, most Europeans kiss each other twice, once on each cheek. Well, get a hold of this. The Dutch actually kiss each other three times! No, the last kiss is not on the chin or forehead. The third kiss ends up being on the same cheek which you started off with. One thing which the Dutch and the Spanish language do have in common is having a word for "enjoy your meal." In Spanish, that would be "buen provecho." In Dutch, it's "eet smakelijk." Wish we had the same word in English, instead of saying it in French, "buon appetit."

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