So imagine you are marooned on an island and you don’t have a compass. The horrors! Which is worse, being marooned or not having a compass? You will need to practice your orienteering skills… of course you may need to figure out what orienteering means! A few things you can do is look up at the sky when you wake in the morning. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west. You should be able to figure out what direction is what by that. If you are still confused you can look for a tree and find the moss growing on it. Generally, the moss will grow on the shady side of the tree, the north. I think my biggest question wouldn’t be what direction was what…You are on a island, no one is around so what difference does knowing what north is? Well, at least finding north would give you something to do.
How to celebrate – Find your directions without a compass. Buy an extra compass in case you lose one. Avoid wearing red in any shade.
So today we celebrate any two cultures that meet in the middle basically. We often think of the west and the United States, England, France… and the eat as Japan, China and Korea but you don;t really have to travel that far to meet different cultures and styles. Just use the United States as an example. Our East coast and our West Coast are markedly different from each other. These types of cultures often meet in a clash of competition in some way as well, whether it’s in a football game, food cook-off or even something as harsh as war. In the long run though we often find that people are the same everywhere. Even though there may be differences in what they eat, the way they talk or the clothes they wear, people all over the world have the same types of drive and desires as anywhere else. The only difference truly comes to be the method chosen on how to achieve what you want to end up with, which more often that not is the same thing.
How to celebrate – Compare the difference in the Western culture and Eastern culture. Think of all the countries that take the best of the East and the best of the West and combine them. Go to an East/West football game.
There has always been a difference in culture between the East and the West. Look at Japan and Canada, Russia and America, Indian and Mexico. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other or that one is right and one is wrong, it just means… well… there is the east and there is the west!
If you go far enough east you will eventually end up in the west and vise-versa. There are football games and other sporting events that tries to prove which is better but in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Take a football game many of the players that play for a western team came from the east, and many playing in the east came from the west.
During World War 2 a big drive was for the Americans to meet up with the Russian to end the war. the Russians were considered the Eastern troops, the Americans the Western. In fact when the two sides decided they could not get along they separated Germany into East Germany and West Germany.
Even in America the life styles were different. The above photo is of an 1800’s street in Philadelphia. Well established by the mid 1800’s, Philadelphia became a point of culture and refinement. It had been around longer, gone through more was a permanent fixture.
An old west town of the same era was a little cruder and contained a not so refined culture and citizens. The buildings were smaller and less secure because frankly, the owners didn’t know if they were going to stay there or not. One was not better than the other, they just served different needs and purposes.
How to celebrate – Try and determine where east meets west where you live. If you live in the East take a trip West. If you live in the West take a trip East. (Note what difference you see, and don;t see, on your trip)
For centuries, the East and West stayed to themselves, neither wanting to know the other or share in their worlds. It doesn’t matter if it was the East Coast verse the West Coast or the Orient verse Europeans, neither trusted each other or wanted much to do with the others culture.
In fact in Japan, until 1860, sailing to a western port was a capital offense. It doesn’t mean that the cultures did not meet because they did. Many Japanese sailors ended up on the California coast because of shipwrecks and storms at sea. Unable to return to their native land, they settled where they were. I assume the same happened with Europeans in Japan and China.
The times began to change when Commodore Perry visited Japan in 1852. The Japanese were not all that thrilled to see him but looking at the guns on his ship they were persuaded not to argue too much.
During World War 2 the west meeting the east meant the end of the war in Europe. When Russian and American troops collided with each other thee was joy, but also mistrust. In fact there was a concerted effort to find all the artwork the Germans had hidden before the Russians could claim it. While things have changed over the years, there is still a great deal of mistrust between the East and the West. They are entirely different cultures with different values. It will stay that way until we all realize that we are people with the same basic needs and desires.
It’s sort of like a football game if you think about it. We have the East verses West compete to see who has the better players. The difference is, at the end of the game everyone shakes hands and goes back home hopefully with a better impression of the other side. Now if we could only apply the same thing to governments.
How to celebrate – Determine whether you are an Easterner or a Westerner. Look as see the differences between the East and West (No matter where you are). Determine where you think the world splits to East and West.
There are many reasons given for East Meets West Day, sports teams, political aspiration and cook-offs. The truth of the matter is this was a very important day in 1945. It was when American troops, the 1st American Army, and Soviet troops, the 1st Ukrainian Front, met at a small town in Germany on the Elbe River. It is the effective day that all resistance in Germany came to an end. The town was Torgau, a provincial capitol in Eastern Germany. The day was originally named Elbe Day as elements of both armies reached across a bridge and shook hands.
Many proposed that the Americans keep going and take all of Germany, Poland and defeat the Russians and communism before it was too late. The Americans, moving quickly across Germany, were actually held up so that the Russians could capture as much territory as possible. This arrangement had been settle by the Yalta Agreement long before the end of the war. Most of the front line troops knew little of the agreement, nor did they care. They found friendly faces greeting them instead of an enemy bent on their destruction.
Thousands of Germans made their way west to surrender to the Americans rather than face the Russians. The Russians had suffered tremendously over the years of the war and they wanted revenge for their own losses, the Americans were deemed to be a little more lenient. With the war over and Germany was divided up between the Russians, Americans, French and English, the area where the two armies met fell into the hands of the Russians and became a part of the Iron Curtain. The Cold War would begin and an entirely different type of fighting would begin.
But on April 25th, 1945 this was one of the happiest days for those who were there. For them the war was effectively over and friends stood face to face, both sides having survived the atrocities of war, a real reason to celebrate.
How to celebrate: Just remember them. They lived and died for all of us and should never be forgotten. Now that the Elbe is free to visit again, try an attend one of the re-enactments of the event. Read a book about the Elbe Meeting where the East Met The West.