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30 American Traditions Spreading Abroad

Groundhog Day

Since 1841, a groundhog has been taken outside on Feb 2nd in Punxsutawney, PA. Seeing his shadow predicts six more weeks of winter. Canada adopted this practice in 1956.

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Thanksgiving

Billed as a celebration of gratitude by Pilgrims and Native Americans, Thanksgiving is also now celebrated in Liberia, Saint Lucia, and on Norfolk Island off Australia.

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Black Friday

This day of retail frenzy that sets off the Christmas shopping season has been adopted by Mexico, Romania, India, France, and Norway.

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Fraternities and Sororities

The American fraternity system began with Phi Beta Kappa at the College of William and Mary in 1750. In 1879, the system spread to Canada after an unsuccessful run in Scotland.

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Mother's Day

The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908 in West Virginia. More than 80 countries now honor mothers on the second Sunday in May.

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Father's Day

Honoring fathers has a rich tradition in many countries. In India, it is a relatively new concept influenced by US celebrations.

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Black History Month

Since 1976, each American president has designated the month of February as Black History Month. Canada and the UK also devote a month to celebrating Black History.

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Halloween

Many customs worldwide revolve around dead souls. The US traditions of costumes and trick-or-treating have made their way to Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, and parts of Mexico.

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Mortarboard Throwing

The custom of throwing caps into the air at the conclusion of a graduation ceremony started at the US Naval Academy in 1912. The tradition then spread to the UK.

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Medical Model Childbirth

In America, 99% of births take place in a hospital. In Japan, Korea, and China, Western-style hospital births have all but replaced traditional home birth in the last few decades.

Earth Day

Envisioned in 1969 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson as a national teach-in on the environment, by 2010 Earth Day was observed by 192 countries.

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Veterans Day

Honoring those who have served or are serving our country, Veterans Day is held Nov 11, the day that WWI ended. Europe, Britain, and Commonwealth countries now observe 2 minutes of silence at 11 a.m. the same day.

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Baby Showers

American baby showers are a social event usually held prior to a baby's birth. The mother is showered with gifts to help her prepare for the child's arrival. This tradition has expanded from the US to the UK.

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Facebook News

Facebook usage began in the US and soon eclipsed its rival social networks in Brazil, India, Britain, and Germany. It is also popular in Indonesia and Mexico.

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New Year's Fare

Eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's to symbolize prosperity and good fortune has spread from the South to New York City – may as well be abroad!

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Cowboys

Cowboys are one of the most recognizable cultural aspects of America. American cowboys exemplify rugged individualism, determination, adversity, and adventure, and there are several places out there that cling to these ideas. Cowboys can be found in the Belgian Congo, Mexico, and British Columbia.

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Prom

Prom is a tradition in the US and Canada that has become a defining moment in most teen lives, and it can also be found outside of the US. Places like Brazil, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and several other countries have prom variations.

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PSL Season

In the United States, the fall season has become synonymous with Pumpkin Spice everything. Starbucks brought the hype to the PSL craze that swept across the nation and has remained an integral part of pop culture for years. It seems that craze is sweeping other nations, too. South Africa has most recently hopped onto the trend as well (though there it hails springtime, rather than fall).

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Basketball

Basketball is a major sport in the United States and has a massive cult following. NBA stars are celebrities and are known worldwide. Basketball has become popular across the globe, even so far as North Korea. Yep, even Kim Jong-Il is a fan of this American sport, though North Korean basketball is quite different from the original version.

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Heavy Metal

It’s been debated if heavy metal was actually born in America or the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, no one can doubt American bands like Kiss and Blue Oyster Cults have shaped the genre. Even in war-torn Syria, heavy metal has a massive underground following.

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Emo Culture

Somehow, the emo culture found its way across the globe and in Iraq. Iraqi teens copied the iconic music and styles of American emos. However, their country was far less accepting than America. In 2012, Shiite militant groups led a targeted campaign against the emo kids and threatened them, if they didn’t change their style. At least 14 were stoned through the campaign.

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Hipsters

It’s hard to define what a hipster is, but they’re almost ubiquitous in major American cities. Hipsters are a subculture against being grouped into subcultures, and they can’t agree on a kind of fashion, music, or literature. Though they all can agree that the things everyone else is following, the mainstream, is absolute garbage. Hipsters have gone global, reaching from the US to western Europe, and, now, Russia.

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Biker Gangs

Biker gangs in the US can bring about a kind of sense of intimidation, think Hell’s Angels. Big guys with massive beards, tattoos, leather, patch-covered jackets, and roaring bikes. Over the years, biker culture has spread from just the US to Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

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Netflix

You know that famous saying ‘Netflix and Chill?’ So does everyone else in the world. Netflix culture is a purely American-created phenomenon--all the shows you could ever want, right at your fingertips just so you can spend hours binging your favorites. This Netflix culture has swept the world, with different shows offered for different countries. From Europe to Australia, to Asia, there are very few nations that have escaped the Netflix craze.

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Valentine’s Day

Okay, okay, okay, no we’re not saying Valentine’s Day was an American creation. However, we are saying that the popularized version that everyone across the world knows draws heavily from American traditions. Thanks to heavy commercialization over the decades, American Valentine’s traditions have swept across the globe to (almost) every nation.

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Tipping

Tipping is a hot-button topic in America, but we’re not the only country that does it anymore. Places like South Africa, Egypt, and major Chinese cities are beginning to adopt tipping culture. Soon, you may have to tip everywhere you go!

American Snacks

American companies like Lays and Coca-Cola aren’t happy just staying in America, especially since there’s a world of opportunity (and customers). Grabbing a bag of Lays is becoming more and more normal in other countries, although they have odd flavors like basil and prawn.  

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Drive-Thrus

Okay, so drive-thrus are super American, but it’s starting to spread thanks to American companies going overseas. McDonald's in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and other countries offer a drive-thru, but not a lot of people use it…yet.

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Coffee To-Go

In America, we’re constantly on the move, so we grab our coffee to-go. Still, this America coffee-culture is incredibly convenient and spreading. Even places like Italy, where coffee is meant to be enjoyed while seated, you can get a to-go cup. This is most likely thanks to tourist that visit the country so often.  

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How Are You vs. Hello

In America, we say, “how are you” meaning “hello,” and some people find it odd. Well, the tradition is spreading. In France, it isn’t strange for people to say “ça va?” to each other, which is a way of asking “how are you doing?” In response, you say “ça va” or “ça va bien.”