Let’s face it: America is basically an independent woman having divorced Europe. One day, America couldn’t take it anymore – all the feudalism, monarchies and free spirits – and moved away. Now, she keeps telling herself she’s better off. At least she’s independent and doing things on her own terms. In this light, it’s a little weird how European traditions seem to be a big marketing asset. Walking through the aisles of any grocery store will have you pondering on how things would be in the old continent. For instance, a can of hot cocoa promised to give you that feeling from a ‘European tradition of drinking hot cocoa on the promenades of Rome and Barcelona’.
There’s a lot wrong with that. As I am an expert on American-European cross culture, I can explain why. There is no such thing as a European culture. Europe is actually a continent, containing many different countries and just as much cultures. There is a Dutch culture, a German culture and, please pay attention all of you in marketing, an Italian and Spanish culture (Rome and Barcelona). It could very well be an Italian tradition to drink hot cocoa on the promenade, but the chance of that also being a tradition in Spain is about as high as the chance of a Mexican family baking an all-American apple pie for their church pot luck next Sunday. Overmore, as far as I know, drinking hot cocoa is not really a tradition on any promenade.
It’s not all bad news though. We actually do have a few traditions in Europe. Through the ages, a bond has been formed and an identity can be seen. As any culture, Europeans see how certain events bind them together. It is in those events that we remember what Europe stands for, how we set ourselves apart from the rest of the world and how to take pride in that. Still, the number of traditions is very limited and it has occured to us how other continents want to take part in this as well. To conclude, I give you the European traditions:
- Having wars between the French, Germans and British (nowadays revolving around a monetary currency, but war it is).
- Feeling superior over any other country for being French/German/British.
- Mocking the French/German/British for their arrogance.
- Mocking the United States for their lack of social security, while also envying their lack of high taxes.
Bonus: This is a somewhat less traditional way of drinking cocoa in the Netherlands.