It seems that there are some pretty interesting traditions that come with being an American.
According to a recent article, there is a library in Alaska that has decided to fight the digital Vs paperback war by offering something a little bit different to books and that’s real fur. The Alaskan Dispatch News have reported that the Alaska Resources Library on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus offers its members the exclusive opportunity to loan out furs, skulls and mounted animals free of charge – just don’t forget your library card.
Now to me, as a British man, this all sounds very bizarre – I have never once thought that there was really a need to be able to rent out a book and a brown bear skull all at the same place. However, who am I to judge? I come from the land of Morris dancing and saluting singular magpies. What’s bizarre to me might be ideal for someone else. This got me thinking – what traditions are out there in America that may seem a bit weird to others, yet perfectly warranted. I present to you: 7 of the strangest customs only to be found in America.
- Groundhog Day
Not the Bill Murray movie, but the traditional holiday which occurs every February 2 that is pretty much based around folklore. Legend has it that if a groundhog leaves its burrow during this day and it is cloudy, then spring will come early. If the groundhog emerges when it is sunny, winter will continue for a further six weeks. Early morning festivals take place around the country to watch this all happen… I still don’t get it.
- Price tags
Okay, this one may seem pretty petty but I believe it has a right to be here. In most American stores and supermarkets, the price of the product will actually be different to what you end up paying at the counter. This is all due to the fact that the price tags don’t actually include tax, which gets added up at the end. The thought of not knowing the exact amount you’ll owe at the till gives me serious impending anxiety.
- “Punkin chunkin”
I love everything about fall – the changing colour of the leaves, Halloween & cinnamon but even I find this one pushing the boat a little bit out. Apparently, Punkin Chunkin is a fall celebration that involves pumpkins being blasted into the air through air cannons across acres of land for seemingly no reason whatsoever. I feel for whoever has to clean up the next day.
However, it seems not everyone is into this custom as the 2015 world championships have been cancelled for the second year running after the board was unable to secure any insurers. I’ll leave that one with you.
I don’t think I really need to explain this one. America’s stance on guns is utterly worrying and I don’t even want to get started on the fact that you can buy a gun in a supermarket alongside a bottle of orange juice. Really!?!
- Alma Mater loyalty
In many countries (the UK included), you will simply go to university, get drunk, somehow come out alive and go on with your life. It seems that there are a fair few Americans out there that have an attachment to their university even long after they have left, with some resorting to buying out all their university’s merch stand to some even getting a tattoo of their alma mater. We get it, you went to university.
After seeing enough episodes of Man Vs Food, it’s safe to say that some Americans sure do love to compete with their food. Hot dog eating competitions are all but a thing of the past as it’s now all about how many of the hottest hot wings known to man you can guzzle down in 10 seconds without even considering a glass of water. Breakfast buffets are also a bit bizarre. Why stick to a boring, plain bowl of porridge when you can have hash browns, fries, bacon, macaroni and eggs all on one plate.
Americans seem to love their prom. A tradition which involves a massive amount of stress and anxiety, an expensive dress or suit, fall-outs and drama all for one night out where you get to disco with your high school buddies and be served fruit punch (0% alcohol) by your science teacher. I get the idea behind it and if all proms were like the one in Mean Girls, then sign me up, but the obsession with it is quite intriguing. Five years later and it’ll probably be something that not only will you feel super embarrassed about but also be constantly reminded about thanks to the awful photos you’ll get to keep and treasure forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited it a couple of times and not only have I met some great people over there, but I’ve also seen some beautiful sights and had some amazing experiences. I hope you will take this in the light-hearted spirit it was intended to be taken in, and I look forward to the onslaught of comments about how bad my British teeth are.