No matter where you go in the world most countries have traditional costumes, except America…
My pond hopping has been fruitful. I’ve been everywhere from France to Madagascar. Each place is so different from the next. When I cross boundaries somewhere, I have a mantra that I follow. After I settle down with my bags, I typically go out alone and find some local food. Hopefully it means sitting down in a small Greek Taverna or a Pub of some sort. Once I’ve filled myself with a local dish, I take to the streets and just get lost.
This is where traveling becomes more than it is to most people. In every chance I get, I spend time with the locals and get to know them. Sometimes, If I’m lucky, I make friends with someone who will tell me a story. In the process I learn about growing up internationally. I’ve heard stories of politics, love, war, and family. Some of the people I’ve met were poor beyond any first world concepts. I even made friends with a wealthy South African bunch who took me for a ride on their personal game reserve.
Of Borders and Boundaries
Every time I come back to the states, I get this feeling of claustrophobia for a few days. To most people, borders are just a line but boundaries are a distinct separation of culture. Of borders and boundaries, I don’t make distinction. They’re all the same. In a country where land mass should dictate a greater diversity, it seems that culture has homogenized into the “melting pot” of modern acceptance. So what? Why make a scene?
Europe, my first foreign exploit, taught me a valuable lesson. I noticed how the separate countries are so small, but crossing a border means entering a whole new world. People come and go freely as they do anywhere else. Conversely, when you dust your shoes off in another residence, you blend with them. It’s an unbelievable experience. Individuals revere one another for who they are.
So why does it work in places like Europe? Well, the easy explanation is “history”. America isn’t all that old. However, walking the streets of places like Paris, Dubai, Cape Town, or Stockholm echo stories that can’t be told in words. Their history is spoken through the people and their lifestyles. The land, in return, mimics the history of its people and their interaction with one another.
Dressed In Their Own Disguises
When you walk in the streets of Florence, you see the elderly in their more traditional clothes. Malagasy people wear their national garb nearly every day and to family events. The Polynesian men go to business meetings in their traditional lava lavas. In America, what do we wear? Are we so unified in culture, that we have a traditional form of dress that we frequently don for special occasions? Or is our culture just a mix of everyone else’s.
Well, it’s not hard to see that we miss out on what the rest of the world uses to help develop identity. It’s a shame but who can we blame? We are a product of our short history. In light of this, I’m taking the readers of this blog to around with me as I explore the different traditional costumes of the world, and how they define the people that wear them.
Join me as I explore these different costumes from here on out. If nothing else, a broad view of world history through clothing is a good reason to respect the boundaries that separate us and preserve world culture in its traditions.