Proving that newcomers to Luxembourg have always brought foolish customs from their homelands, recently discovered cave art in the capital depicts a new arrival smiling at everyone.
The figure, shown with what appears to be an Ibex-hide suitcase and a stone tablet on which he’s going to scatch images of Luxembourg City to share on some kind of prehistoric social media, is seen approaching a group of locals.
“We should not read too much into this image, but I’m going to anyway,” said art historian Paul Lee Olithic. “One can imagine this figure arriving at the cluster of dwellings that is today Luxembourg City, perhaps because he’s found work in the growing mud-making sector.”
“His posture suggests a desire to get to know inhabitants of this land, and his face is curious and friendly,” he said. “What’s most noticeable is that his mouth is pulled up as if he’s saying, ‘hello, friend.’”
“If this figure is based on a real individual, he probably quickly learned that you can’t go around with a ridiculous smile painted on your face like some kind of stoned circus clown,” he added. “That makes you look weird.”
Acclimation specialist Fernanda Pereira, who herself went through a painful integration when she moved to Luxembourg City as a teenager, has some advice for newcomers like the figure in the cave painting.
“If you want to blend in, you need to wear an expression that says ‘I’m suffering from mild constipation’ and ‘my favorite gerbil has just died,’” she said.
However, Bernadette Chou from the Dudelange-based Center for Cultural Accuracy says the characterization of Luxembourg City as singularly cold and unsmiling is not true.
“It’s actually the whole area around Luxembourg, too,” she said. “In fact, the entire Greater Region is full of people who see a gratuitous smile as a sign of pure idiocy.”
Various studies confirm Chou’s assertion and go even further, proving that the entire zone north of Lyon, west of Warsaw, south of Copenhagen, and east of Dublin is marked by a preference for wearing a neutral to slightly unhappy facial expression when in public.
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