Culture and Traditions in USA
The most multicultural nation in the world, the American identity is influenced by almost every other culture. Asian, European, African American, and South American cultures are evident in many of the country's cultural elements. A country that's open to all religions, nearly every kind is practiced with complete acceptance and tolerance. Because of the varied nationalities, there are many differences in lifestyles such as having both conservative and liberal political views, and both family-oriented and individualistic values.
Despite being a melting pot of different cultures, the USA has forged its identity and here are some of their customs and traditions:
- Greetings are very informal and usually takes a handshake and a "Hello."
- Saying "How are you?" is a form of greeting and is usually answered with an "Okay," or "Fine." Most often than not, it is not an invitation to narrate your life events but a mere polite way of saying "Hi."
- When invited to a dinner party, it is customary to bring gifts such as wine or flowers.
- Americans are very direct and straightforward. Beating around the bush is considered a waste of time.
Art and ArchitectureThe first renowned school of painting in the USA was the Hudson River School founded in 1820, characterized by direct and simple interpretations of American daily life. American paintings have always depicted the mundane and rather ordinary existence of American living, as evidenced by one of the country's most famous paintings, Whistler's Mother by James McNeill Whistler in 1871 and Grant Wood's American Gothic in 1930.
The leading figure in the visual arts movement was Andy Warhol in the 1960's, who brought pop art to new heights with his use of silk-screen printing to interpret American culture and consumerism.
Just like the country's culture, its architecture is also defined by different styles. Among the most famous buildings in the country are the Empire State Building in New York with its Art Deco style, the White House in Washington, D.C., in Neoclassical style, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Gothic Revival, and the modern Structural Expressionist style of New York's Hearst Tower.
LiteratureJust like America's art, the country's literature depicts the lives of Americans living in the heart of the country. Among the most famous books of fiction include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby - which are among a small list of books regarded as "The Great American Novel." Other notable writers include T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, and Ernest Hemingway - all Nobel Prize Laureates.
SocietyAmerican society values education above anything else. Having a degree is highly valued as it is the most common way to get a good job. Americans often ask new acquaintances what they do for a living - a clear sign that people are judged through their occupation. One of the prime factors of social class, one's job is a large indicator of one's identity, placing education as one of the most important things in an American's life.
Though the nuclear family unit is the most preferred, statistics show that majority of American families actually comprise postmodern family systems such as childless couples and single-parent households. And with divorce predicted at 40-60% with new marriages, the notion of the preferred nuclear family unit is slowly changing the face of America.
ClothingWhen referring to the Western style of clothing, it usually refers to the styles of Americans and most Europeans. Americans are very casual and informal when it comes to dressing up and the blue denim jeans are the quintessential American style. The t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers combo is the most preferred ensemble, while the cowboy boots, and leather jacket are distinctively American.
CuisineAmericans are known worldwide for their love of convenience food and eating out. Fast food such as hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries, potato chips, macaroni and cheese, and pizza very much represent the country. Southern style food are called comfort food, which are fried chicken, black-eyed peas, corn bread, and collard greens.
Festivals in USAThe USA love to celebrate and they celebrate big. Here are some of their beloved holidays and festivals:
The Fourth of JulyThe celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence is celebrated each year throughout the country. Everywhere you go, you'll see barbecues, picnics, the American flag, and firework displays in public gatherings.
Mardi Gras in New OrleansAttracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a party paradise of street dancing and parades.
St. Patrick's DayCelebrating Irish heritage in the USA every year on the 17th of March, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with displays of the color green, parades, drinking, and parties.
ThanksgivingA national holiday and the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving is celebrated every 4th Thursday of November. It involves gathering of the family and dining on turkey and home-cooked dishes as a way of giving thanks to the bounty of blessings that have arrived.
Last Update On : November 12, 2016