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.
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?