10 CommentsLife

[Originally published on Jan. 17, 2012]

happy world globe


Lifestyles and attitudes vary from country to country.
My travels have left me with many observations.

A little background: My father was Canadian military, (of German descent). He met my mother when first stationed in Germany. They married and I was born there. Over the next 14 years, we moved back and forth between the two countries and explored much of Europe. My parents retired to California, U.S.A. and I also spent some time there, especially recently.

One of the biggest cultural differences between Europe and North America is attitudes towards nudity and sexuality. Most Europeans educate their children from an early age that this is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Nudity is fairly commonplace; on the beaches, in newspapers and magazines and on television. Nobody gives it a second thought.

The United States on the other hand, having been founded by Puritans way back when, seems to have a real problem with it. Not only is it considered “shocking” and “inappropriate”, but virginity is regarded as a “prize” by many, to only be given in marriage. I think it is because of these taboos that they have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world. Forbidden fruit tastes best. Canada falls somewhere in between. Where I live, it is legal for women to go topless in public, but, most don’t take advantage of the privilege. “Too sad”, say the men! Does anyone remember the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl a few years back?

Super Bowl XXXVIII

The American press discussed this ad nauseum for weeks, (and some STILL talk about it, LOL), whereas we here in Canada were scratching our heads and wondering what the big deal was. This overreaction surely must have met with ridicule in Europe. Ironic, that showing someone getting bludgeoned or shot to death is no big deal, but, that’s another topic altogether……

These same attitudes apply to alcohol. Considered a normal part of European culture, but again, “forbidden fruit” to North Americans until they reach legal drinking age. This leads to overuse and abuse, in my opinion. Not to say that everyone in Europe drinks responsibly, of course, but, it certainly is more prevalent.

America IS the land of opportunity and when it comes to shopping, the selection is infinite! Stores are almost always open, including most holidays. Endless varieties of everything abound. They also have wonderful catalogues, especially for clothing.

This is something I really enjoy, because in Canada, we have less choice and our stores are on strict lock-down for holidays. We didn’t even have Sunday shopping until 1992!

Worse again in Europe! When I was living in Germany, stores all closed at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays and were NEVER open on Sundays. In Italy, stores shut down for lunchtime and siesta, noon to 4 pm. Ahhh, the Italians know how to enjoy life!

Vive la difference!

Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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  1. I Love Your Blog. Essentially every post makes me crack up, ponder, and learn something.

  2. I felt bad for Justin Timberlake as he was brutilized over that incident especially in the press. I agree with you there in America it was such a big deal. I didn’t think it was anything but a little oops!
    Nudity and Alcohol is such a problem in the US, we have such an attitude over it.
    In my state of Utah it is even worse because of the religious culture here of which I am not a member. They liquour stores, Liquor Licenses for restaurants and pubs are State owned, regulated and run the government reaps all the benefits of that. :O
    We do need to relax over our ways in this part of the World.
    Great post 😀

  3. I didn’t know about the topless option but there is definitely nothing wrong with that, well I would have that opinion being a manbut there is nothing sleazy about it and if a woman wishes to go topless then good for her 🙂 I think that the cultural differences can be really crazy in some instances but I guess that is what makes us what we are however political correctness can go too far sometimes, even in Europe 🙁

    Hey I hope that you have been having a lovely week Debbie, perhaps a spot of sun worshipping or is it snowing where you are and not the best weather for stripping off for the beach? 🙂 Well I only said 😉 🙂

    Have a wonderful Thursday and it is so nice to see you back in bloggyland 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    1. Thanks Andro. 🙂 I find the differences quite marked in some cases, either good or bad. Not much snow this year, but, it’s definitely too cold for stripping off, LOL. Not that I would anyway. Leave that to the younguns. 😉

      1. Hey join the masses it will be lots of fun 🙂 😉 Besides you are still a spring chicken soooo off with those clothes and onto the beach 🙂

        Have a very wicked weekend Debbie 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

  4. Correct, Debbie, and very well written! I will bookmark your excellent site and look around to read more.
    I came from Germany to the USA in 1984 at the age of 49 and had my thoughts about cultural differences also. I observed that young mothers think breastfeeding is “gross” and rather give their babies the bottle with artificial food ( hence so many Americans start their life with an already weakened Immune System)….Breastfeeding in public (discrete of course) was sofar a criminal act here, it starts now to loosen up.
    Racism is another “hot iron”, it is denied officially, but very much alive in daily life. The USA is also the biggest waster in recources of all kinds, from water to electricity, to food, to paper and to the inability to recycle…..
    Great blog, Debbie!

    1. Thank you so much, Karin! I have a feeling there will be a part 2 or even 3 for this particular blog post, LOL. Yes, racism is definitely a “hot iron” subject, as well as politics, sports, etc. In fact, I see a whole series of articles in my future. 😉

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