The saying “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” is oft heard but is it really understood?
Roman culture gave us the idea that laws had fixed boundaries. Another culture around at the time, and a little before, was the Germanic culture. This culture was based on the idea that you carried the laws of your tribe with you. So if you were raised in a tribe where drinking milk was taboo, even if you went to a tribe where is was OK it was still taboo for you. Simple right? Heh. You can see why the Roman way of laws won out.
In a way, I was raised in a “Germanic” style household, though I highly doubt my parents thought about it like that. By that I mean, friends that visited were bound by their parent’s rules. For example, if they weren’t allowed soda at home, they weren’t offered it in our house.
This was all fine and dandy until I spent the night at a friend’s house. Her mom plunked a basket of laundry in front of the friend and I. I had no idea what she wanted until she pointed at the basket and (this is a direct quote) said “No worky, no eaty”. I was floored. No guest in my house would’ve been expected to do chores. Heck I wasn’t even expected to do chores. (Yes, I was a spoiled brat, just ask my Sister 😉 )
I vaguely remember folding a wash cloth or two and deciding that was enough for whatever I was going to eat in the house. Needless to say I do not remember there ever being a second sleep over.
I like to think this dichotomy helped me become more understanding towards other peoples ways of doing things, but in reality it just irritated the crap out of me.
However, when I develop characters this is one of the things I try to think about. I may not go through an entire detailed backstory but I do at least try to get a semblance of how they were raised and which style they were raised under, and how it may have influenced them.
How about you or your characters? Germanic or Roman?