Be Thankful For A Decent Education

, , , , | Working | October 14, 2018

(There have been many jokes and jabs about US Americans not knowing anything about geography or foreign cultures. But let me tell you, this problem exists in other places, too. I live in Finland. Some years ago, I was interning at a radio station for my journalism studies. It was a typical “light” commercial station with top-40 hits, hosts chatting about different easy topics between songs, pop-culture-related interviews etc. This happens at the end of November. I am chatting with one of the daytime hosts.)

Me: “Morning! What’s up?”

Host: “Morning! I was just wondering what I’ll talk about on the air. Because I was wondering, like, you know how it is Thanksgiving today, right?”

Me: “Yeah, I think it is.”

Host: “And like, it is weird that they celebrate it so much in the US, but not at all in Finland or, like, any other Nordic countries. Do they even celebrate Thanksgiving anywhere in Europe?”

Me: “Well, no, I don’t think so, probably not in the same style as the US, at least.”

Host: “Right, and I am going to discuss why that is. Is it some kind of culture and attitude thing? Americans are more open and express their feelings more in public so, like, maybe being publicly thankful does not fit in Finnish culture, and that is why we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving? And should we, with like turkey and pumpkins and stuff?”

Me: “It’s probably because US-style Thanksgiving is more or less a national holiday or at least a continental one?”

Host: “How do you mean?”

Me: “I’m not an expert, but I think historically the modern American Thanksgiving has its root in the 16th century. The colonization of America, pilgrims leaving Europe to establish new settlements, and all that. They celebrated surviving the journey, and the new land, and gave thanks to God every year for good harvest that would be enough to get them through the following winter and spring. We are still in Europe, so we don’t have that tradition, but Canada and US have it. I mean, Europeans have different harvest festivals that are in some ways similar. In Finland, that would probably be Kekri, but it’s not really celebrated the same way.”

Host: *pause* “Right.”

(She seemed very suspicious of my explanation and still talked on air about how lack of Thanksgiving in Finland has to do with “being introverted and privacy-loving culture.” At least listeners had fun pointing out the same things I already did. And the host calls herself a professional journalist.)

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