What a unique country this is! Next door to Ontario lies a very different place, the province of Quebec. It's largely French although I know unilingual Anglos who can still get along in Montreal. There are clusters of French people elsewhere in Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Manitoba), but French is dominant in Quebec, and their culture is different.
For one thing, they kiss a lot. Well, maybe that way too, but I mean when they greet each other. It's a double kiss, one per cheek. I know that we hear of the Hollywood air kiss, but these are actual pecks. You can hear the lips smacking. Women kiss women; women kiss men; men kiss women; however, I don't see men kissing men. I'm pretty darn relieved about that in point of fact. I mean to say: a stolid old WASP can only endure so much culture shock. Actually, I didn't kiss anyone, but I offered my cheeks appropriately and permitted women to have their way with me. It's the gentlemanly thing to do after all.
Then, there are the memory cards. They give them out at funerals. A memory card (I don't know if that's the right term) is almost the size of a playing card, but it's plasticized (or laminated or whatever). It contains the name, picture, and date of departure of the deceased. People have been known to carry several memory cards around in their pockets or purses. Maybe they also do that where you come from, but it was new to us Ontario Anglos, and, of course, new almost always seems odd. I once lived in Montreal and have attended English funerals there, and we never had that custom, but maybe they do it now for all I know — my last English funeral there occurred about thirty-five years ago, and customs might have changed.
Differences like this make life interesting. I remember attending a funeral in Kansas City. At the end of the in-church memorial service, the family sat at the front, and everyone filed past, viewed the casket, and nodded pleasantly at the family. I actually preferred that to here where we generally wheel or carry the casket out at the end of the service, and people file out behind it rather somberly.
Once upon a time, friends from Western Canada, the Prairies, told us that when they invited people to drop in out there, they really meant it. She claimed that for the most part, we Easterners don't. Certainly, when I trekked out west several years ago, people did seem to be friendlier. I recall stopping at a gas station in Calgary to ask directions, and I pretty well had people running over to the car from all corners of the lot to offer help. One guy actually had us follow him to our destination.
Madcapmum once wrote about the Canadian tendency to take our shoes off at the door. It makes sense to have gotten into that habit because we do have this little season called winter in these parts. We tend to wear boots and must naturally shed them at the door. I mean you can't go tromping about the house in overshoes. What would be next after all: snowshoes, skis?
There is really no point to all of this, except to share what I have shared and to wonder what differences might exist from your geographical area to mine. I'm told that the Brits like warm beer and cold toast for example, and there are dishes called grits Down South. We wear toques on our heads and sleigh down hills on toboggans. Therefore, I chuckle when I read of Americans wearing toboggans on their heads, just as they laugh to hear that our milk comes in bags.
And yes, I am rambling. I really just wanted to mention french kissing when I began. What did you think I was going to write about? Hmmm?