I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving weekend. I did even though I actually was out of the country. I spent the day working with good friends and had a lovely dinner with one of my adoptive families. Many people there wished me a happy American Thanksgiving and I received nice emails from around the world as well. And that got me thinking about Globalization.
You get used to business people using holidays to make a connection. If you do business in another country, you become familiar with their special times. At a minimum, you want to know that Chinese New Year will interrupt supply from Asia or Christmas will stop shipments from South America for up to a month. But it’s also a way to bond—to wish a Frenchman “Happy Bastille Day” or to recognize why Canadians are wearing poppies or to acknowledge Boxing Day—these are all good ways to connect.
Some holidays have been adopted overseas as purely commercial operations. Japan took to Valentine’s Day with a vengeance, not just dictating chocolate sales on Feb 14th, but making a second holiday on March 14th, called White Day to fuel cookie sales. Halloween has gone international as well (that’s another holiday I spent out of the country this year—see the pic below from the dessert bar at the hotel.) And Santa is internationally recognized as well.
America borrows less from other countries’ celebrations than they take from us, but we adopt and adapt plenty else. We took the concept of pizza from Italy and made our version the international standard. Sushi is almost more American these days than apple pie—at least we probably eat it more often. Tacos in the U.S. don’t often resemble what I get in Mexico, but are tasty none-the-less. Few things are more American than the idea of “fusion,” right? That’s our national identity—the world’s melting pot (or the super stew or the buffet of every option, depending on which food analogy you like best.)
The point being is that globalization allows for a grand give-and-take of ideas from all around the world, letting us pick and choose what suits us best as individuals. And also to adapt them to our own personal tastes. For example, my cousin says the best way to eat sushi is “to roll it in corn meal and deep fry it,” an act which made my Japanese friends recoil in horror at the very thought…but then reach for a second bite after trying it.
We should embrace globalization and the sharing of ideas. Sometimes adapting them results in something better than the original (personally I’ll usually take a Chicago deep dish over a basic Italian version) and sometimes we want to keep true to the original. We are so lucky to have the entire world to choose from for either our dinner or our floors.
By the way, one of the nicest notes I got last week was from a personal friend in China. There was no reason at all for him to write at this particular time except he recognized the meaning of the season to me. He wrote about how thankful he was to have me as a friend and to enjoy the experience of the total eclipse with me this August. He wrote in the pure spirit of Thanksgiving. That’s an export the US can be proud of and I’m thankful to see it adopted around the world.