Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cultural Context is Critical

Suppose you lived on a small island off the coast of a major country. Could be Britain or France or Japan or Australia. Anywhere. Then suppose you went for a walk along the harbor one Thursday morning in November and saw this:

You would probably take a hard look at this boat and try to identify the colored object bobbing in the air. You might pull out your digital camera and use the zoom to get a closer look. Then you might, or might not, realize that the object is an inflated plastic turkey.

Why are these people flying a plastic turkey from their boat? You might wonder and wonder. But if your island was situated off the coast of the USA you would know. They are celebrating Thanksgiving. Of course.

Thousands of years from now will archeologists wonder why the turkey was such a prevalent symbol in this one part of the globe? And will they ever deduce that it symbolizes gratitude for one's blessings? Turkey=thankfulness . . . the logic is a little shaky.

No comments: