Land of traditions…

Fortune Cookie

While in many respects, europeans tend to be more formal that their counterpart in the USA, people in the USA seem to have a love of rituals that is fascinating. One example is the prom. Formal dress balls are quite rare in continental Europe, in particular for late teenagers. In the USA, this seems to be a country-wide tradition. A similar example would be graduation uniforms in Universities. I would hardly claim that there are no such rituals in Europe, but they tend to be limited to one region, one country, or one type of school.

A less serious tradition in the USA is the chinese restaurant. You’ll find chinese restaurants in most towns, in Silicon Valley they are often strongly related to China. The food becomes more american as you move inland and you cross the chop­stick line (the point where by default in a chinese restaurant, you are given a fork by default instead of chop­sticks). There is a tradition that persist in any case: the fortune cookie. At the end of the lunch, typically with the bill, each diner receives a cookie that contains some vague prediction. The interesting thing with this tradition is that it is not chinese, you won’t get such cookies in restaurant in China – you won’t even get such a cookie in most chinese restaurant in continental Europe or in Japan. In fact, the New-York times has an interesting article explaining that fortune cookies are originally from Japan.

Given the cultural influence of the USA in Europe, there is now a funny phenomenon: restaurants slowly start serving fortune cookies at the end of the meal…

3 thoughts on “Land of traditions…”

  1. “I would hardly claim that there are no such rituals in Europe, but they tend to be limited to one region, one country, or one type of school.”

    Hm? Just by taking a quick look at the article, all countries that ever got at least partly occupied by Austrians have them (my region), and the rituals are almost identical. Plus Scandinavia. And I don’t see how Italy and Finland belong to the same region. Oh, and in the US, this ritual is also limited to one country ;-)

  2. Formal dress balls.

    As for uniforms, you’re probably right – I guess wearing a suit doesn’t count.

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