Happy Thanksgiving: American Traditions and The Big Red Scissors

One of the more unique kinds of “office supplies” that we keep in our office here is a giant pair of red scissors. And they work, too.

We use them when a client wants to do a traditional ribbon cutting to herald the opening of their business or to celebrate an expansion of some kind.

The ribbon cutting, and its distant cousin, the groundbreaking (best if done with a gold-painted shovel) is a common, and popular, public relations strategy. That’s because business owners still like the idea of making a ceremony out of their business decisions. Like any number of old-fashioned traditions, the idea of it can seem tedious unless you’re the one involved, in which case it becomes a cherished moment in time. People like cutting ribbons, just like they enjoy any number of other dated ceremonies.

But where did this practice come from? Why cut a ribbon?

Depends on who you ask. The practice has apparently been around for most of the last hundred years and, like many things embedded in American culture, has its roots in Europe.

Some good theories come from – where else? – a business that specializes in such ceremonies, in Florida. On the website (http://www.uniqueceremonies.com/ribboncutting.htm) for their ribbon-cutting services, they posit that the ribbon cutting ceremony has its roots in European wedding ceremonies, where the bride and groom use the crossing of a cut ribbon as a symbol for the new path they are choosing together. They go on to report that the ribbon cutting ceremony moved to the states around the turn of the 20th century, when railroad companies began using the ritual to celebrate the opening of new routes.

Corny? Some think so. Cherished? Definitely! Look at the faces of people doing the cutting and I defy you to find someone not smiling. The Fearey Group scissors do get plenty of use and we still recommend it as part of a business event. But now we propose digital components into the ribbon cutting ceremony – a live stream or a tweet stream of sorts.

Even as The Fearey Group works to keep on the cutting edge of communications strategies and practices, we recognize that some traditions aren’t likely to fade just because innovations emerge. Even as we assemble a latest-and-greatest strategy for a client, we keep the scissors handy too.

Enjoy the tradition with your family today. Bring out the scissors. Happy Thanksgiving!

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