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The Culture of Windows

December 25, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (USA), Central Oregon to be specific. This is a region where curtains are not only used to keep out too much sun, but also used to keep people from seeing into your home. While living in the Oregon High Desert where summer temperatures can reach and exceed 100F, at 10 am my mother would go around the house closing all the windows and drawing all the curtains to keep the house from heating up. Once the sun went down, the windows would be reopened to let in the cool night air. The curtains would remain closed, however, to allow us to sit in the comfort of our living room without being on view to anyone passing by.

At one point, I spent 15 months living in the faraway land called Ohio. Window culture differed there. As a single woman I continued pulling the curtains in the evening against any prying eyes. When I left on vacation, I put lights on timers to simulate someone being home as a deterrent to burglars, but the curtains would also be drawn to maintain the same evening pattern as when I was home and to keep it from being obvious that there was no one in the home. My landlady complained about this because it did not fit with her window culture and she thought it made the house look like it was vacant. She thought I should leave the curtains open.

There was another Ohio window culture that I found strange. They put candles in their windows, electric, of course. Sometimes there were candles in every window of the house. No one did this where I came from, except maybe as Christmas decorations. Seeing the candles in the Ohio windows made me think of the old custom of putting a light in the window for family members who left home, e.g. off to war. This made Ohio seem like the most depressing place on Earth.

Now, I’m in rural England and am informed that the curtains should be opened before sitting down to breakfast. If curtains remain closed during the day, it implies that someone has died.

view out of a window, several flowering plants on the windowsill

No one has died today.

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2 comments

  1. Actually a small point, however curtains should be drawn on awakening and by first entrant of the day to common living rooms 😉


  2. I have two sets of curtains on my biggest window. A light one next to the actual window and the heavy ones inside. I try to keep the light ones closed. Especially since third street is right off the window and the window is taller than 6 feet and starts at my knees! If we lived in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn’t close them at all! They’d exist to finish the window!



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