Death On The Brain

Every once in a while, a conversation with my German friends takes a rather unexpected turn, or reveals a facet of cultural divide that I hadn’t ever imagined before.

Earlier this week, I was chatting online with Jenny (my usual partner in crime) and I stumbled across an image someone had posted to FaceBook.  I thought it was hilarious, so I shared it with her.

grim

Her reaction?  “I don’t know what the grim reaper is.”

I was incredulous for a moment, but then I realized how fascinating this is, so we talked a bit more and I asked some followup questions.   She did know the Grim Reaper, as it turns out, but only by the German names.  In Germany,  he’s referred to as Sensenmann (Scythe Man), or as  Väterchen Tod (Father Death).

The things that are “common knowledge” for someone who grew up in the United States are often wildly different than that of someone who grew up in Germany or England or almost anywhere else.

Have you learned that something which you thought was common knowledge that turned out not to be?

4 thoughts on “Death On The Brain

  1. 🙂

    I felt this way when asking my students about Dr. Seuss. They’re like, who’s that? I’m like, “He’s only one of the most important children’s book authors for learning how to read in America!” Not so much here. So I played the old cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for all my classes last year and the year before. Only some of them had heard of the Jim Carrey version, but the cartoon was totally new for them.

    So in that way it was really nice to share about that part of my culture!

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  2. During the presidential debates, a much younger co-worker asked me if she should post a video about some anti-war guy’s take on the candidates’ positions on Afghanistan.

    “What’s he’s saying is very interesting, but I’ve never heard of him,” she said.

    “Who is it?” I asked.

    “His name is Phil Donahue. Do you know who that is?”

    After lifting my jaw off the floor, I explained that yes, what he had to say was important, if only because before there was an Oprah, there was Phil Donahue. The fact that he’s still out there, slugging away at issues he considers important (and doing so in an intelligent manner), just made me want to educate her all the more.

    Then I returned to my rocking chair.

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  3. I run into this a lot. 🙂 Everything about Christmastime, from the Yule Goat to the Three Kings… and all things horror related, from the boogie man and la llorona. It’s always trippy to think that something can be so much part of our childhood or lives and never play even the most minor of parts in someone else’s life…

    I loved the image, too. 😀

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