Why Are Traditions Important (15 Reasons + Examples)

What if we could unlock the secrets of our past and gain invaluable insights into our present through time-honored customs and rituals? Tradition, the vibrant tapestry of our shared human experience, beckons us to explore its myriad threads. 

As we delve into the captivating stories behind these practices, we uncover the values, beliefs, and emotions that have transcended generations and bridged cultures. 

Join us on a fascinating journey to rediscover the rich heritage and timeless wisdom woven into the fabric of tradition, revealing its powerful influence on our lives and its capacity to unite us in a rapidly changing world.

Table of Contents

What Is Tradition?

Cultural tradition, religious traditions, family traditions, social traditions, national traditions, folk traditions, seasonal traditions, it can act as a bridge between different cultures, it can help bridge generational gaps, it facilitates intergenerational communication and mutual understanding, multi-generational bonding and understanding, it allows individuals to feel connected to a larger community, it establishes a sense of continuity and stability for individuals, it fosters a sense of identity, belonging, and shared experience, it preserves the uniqueness and identity of local businesses, reinforcement of family and cultural identity, it can help strengthen interpersonal relationships, it can help individuals develop a strong sense of self, traditions can encourage unity across generations, traditions strengthen relationships, traditions cultivate respect for ancestors, maintaining social norms and expectations, providing a framework for educational practices, preserving and transmitting informal knowledge, how to preserve your culture and traditions: ways to keep traditions alive, how do traditions differ between cultures, can traditions be changed or reformed, are all traditions beneficial.

Tradition is a complex and multifaceted concept that encompasses the transmission of customs , beliefs , practices , and knowledge passed down through generations within a culture, family, or social group. It serves as a vital link between the past and the present, helping to preserve and share the values, history, and identity of a particular group or society. 

Traditions often involve rituals , ceremonies , celebrations , or other activities that foster a sense of continuity, belonging, and connection to the past. They play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world and our place within it while also providing a foundation for social cohesion and emotional well-being. 

As a means of maintaining cultural heritage and strengthening social bonds, traditions offer us a lens through which to view the shared experiences, wisdom, and insights of those who came before us.

Types of Tradition

Traditions can be classified into various categories based on the context and purpose they serve. These categories help us understand the significance of different traditions in our lives. 

Cultural traditions are practices, customs, and rituals that are shared by a specific cultural or ethnic group. They serve as a way of preserving and passing down the group’s history, beliefs, and values. 

Examples of cultural traditions include: 

  • Diwali in India
  • Chinese New Year
  • Oktoberfest in Germany

Religious traditions are rituals, beliefs, and practices associated with a particular faith or religion. These traditions help followers connect with their deity or deities, practice their beliefs, and create a sense of belonging within their religious community. 

Examples of religious traditions include: 

Family traditions are customs and rituals passed down through generations within a family. These traditions help strengthen family bonds, create memories, and instill a sense of identity and belonging. 

Examples of family traditions include: 

  • Family reunions
  • Annual vacations
  • Special birthday meals

Social traditions are practices, customs, and norms that regulate and maintain social order within a community. These traditions influence how individuals interact with each other, as well as their roles and responsibilities. 

Examples of social traditions include: 

  • Graduation ceremonies
  • Sports team rituals
  • Hosting a potluck dinner

National traditions are customs and rituals shared by a nation’s citizens to celebrate their history, culture, and achievements. These traditions often involve ceremonies, events, and public holidays that foster a sense of national pride and unity. 

Examples of national traditions include: 

  • Independence Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • National sports events

Folk traditions are customs, rituals, and stories that are passed down orally through generations within a community. Often rooted in local legends , myths , and history , these traditions provide insight into a culture’s beliefs and values. 

Examples of folk traditions include: 

  • Irish step dancing
  • Japanese tea ceremonies
  • African drumming

Seasonal traditions are customs and practices associated with specific times of the year or changes in the seasons. These traditions often celebrate the cycles of nature, agricultural milestones, or religious events. 

Examples of seasonal traditions include: 

  • Thanksgiving
  • Harvest festivals
  • Celebrations of the winter solstice

Now that we’ve defined the different types, let’s delve further into the realm of traditions and uncover 15 reasons why they are the transformative force you’ve been seeking!

Traditions Preserve Culture

They serve as a means through which the values, customs, and practices of a community are passed down from generation to generation. Through the observance of traditions, members of a group can maintain a connection to their heritage , ensuring that the essence of their culture remains alive and relevant in the present day.

In many cases, traditions manifest as unique rituals, ceremonies, and celebrations that define a society’s cultural identity. Moreover, traditions can also act as a bridge between different cultures, allowing for an exchange of ideas, customs, and knowledge. 

As people from diverse backgrounds observe and learn about each other’s traditional practices, they develop stronger awareness, appreciation, and respect for different worldviews. This exposure can lead to enriching cross-cultural encounters and facilitate greater social cohesion and understanding.

Traditions Bring Individuals Together

They bring individuals together by providing shared experiences that create connections and deepen relationships. This sense of unity is significant in maintaining a strong, cohesive community.

As people participate in local customs and rituals, they develop a sense of belonging and camaraderie with others in their community. This can lead to increased trust , acceptance , and cooperation among residents as they collectively engage in experiences that are unique to their culture.

Furthermore, traditions can help bridge generational gaps, promoting understanding and mutual respect. By sharing stories and participating in time-honored activities, older generations can pass down wisdom and values to younger members of the community.

Inclusion in communal traditions can also lead to a strong sense of identity for individuals, as they are able to embrace their cultural heritage and take pride in its unique features. This can encourage personal growth and promote greater self-awareness .

Traditions Transmit Knowledge

Traditions play a significant role in education, passing on knowledge and skills from one generation to the next. They serve as a vital link, connecting the past to the present and facilitating cultural continuity.

For instance, through traditional storytelling or folktales, younger generations can learn about important historical events , moral values , and life lessons . This educational method is not only engaging but also helps in preserving cultural heritage.

Another example is traditional crafts and skills, such as: 

  • Woodworking

By passing on these techniques and knowledge, each generation contributes to the preservation and evolution of their culture. This learning process also promotes creativity , critical thinking , and pride in one’s heritage.

Older generations can impart wisdom and advice while empowering their successors to carry on these customs. In turn, the younger generation can develop respect and appreciation for the roots of their culture, leading them to actively engage with and preserve their rich history.

Traditions Transmit Values

They act as a vehicle to transmit the core beliefs, principles, and ideals that shape a community or a family.

Values such as respect , honesty , responsibility , and empathy are often instilled through the practice of various traditions. For example, in many cultures, certain rituals and ceremonies help teach children the importance of respecting elders and the community’s values .

By participating in these traditions, individuals learn to uphold the values that contribute to the well-being of society. This provides a sense of continuity and ensures that the core principles remain intact as time passes. 

Moreover, traditions can instill a sense of pride and identity in those who practice them, further strengthening their commitment to these values.

Additionally, passing on values through traditions allows for multi-generational bonding and understanding . As people participate in various age-old customs, it enables different age groups to share their experiences and learn from each other, fostering a strong sense of unity and belonging.

Traditions Instill a Sense of Belonging

Traditions play a significant role in instilling a sense of belonging among people within a community. This sense of belonging is essential in developing individual and collective identity, as it fosters a sense of unity , acceptance , and connectedness .

Shared practices and customs can bring people together, creating a feeling of togetherness among members of a group.

The shared experiences, values, and knowledge that come from engaging in these practices contribute to a person’s understanding of their place within the group.

Common rituals and celebrations can help bridge the gaps between generations, cultures, and social backgrounds, solidifying a sense of shared identity.

The reassurance that these customs will endure over time can provide comfort and security. Knowing that one is part of a long-standing tradition can strengthen one’s connection to their cultural or familial roots, providing a foundation for their identity.

Traditions Connect Individuals to Their History

Traditions play an integral role in connecting individuals and communities to their history.

Through customs and practices, people can:

  • Trace their roots
  • Learn about their ancestors
  • Gain a sense of continuity

This connection to the past allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices, achievements, and events that have shaped the course of human existence.

History is not just a story of the past; it is a living, breathing entity that continues to impact the present and the future. By participating in traditions, individuals can connect with history on a personal level, experiencing and understanding the cultural significance behind various moments and milestones.

Being aware of one’s historical roots creates a bridge between generations, ensuring that stories, values, and lessons are passed on to future generations. This intergenerational connection strengthens bonds and encourages cultural preservation.

Engaging with history allows for critical reflection and learning.

By understanding and acknowledging the complexities of the past, individuals can draw upon its wisdom and knowledge to make informed decisions and advocate for progress. This is especially important in a world where change is constant, as traditions and history can serve as a solid foundation amid flux.

Traditions Support Local Economies

Traditions often involve the participation of local businesses, artisans, and producers. By participating in these customs, people are directly supporting their local economies.

These traditions help to:

  • Promote the distribution of wealth within communities.
  • Prevent the monopolization of resources by large multinational corporations.

For example, a craftsperson who practices a long-held tradition of hand-weaving baskets may have a more genuine and desirable product compared to mass-produced alternatives. Customers who appreciate the history and craftsmanship behind these items are more likely to support these local businesses.

Participating in traditional events, such as festivals or markets , also plays a crucial role in stimulating local economies.

These events create demand for products and services, ultimately encouraging the growth and development of small businesses. This not only benefits the business owners but also positively impacts those who work for them, contributing to overall job creation and economic stability in the region.

Traditions Maintain Continuity

Traditions play an important role in maintaining continuity within communities and among generations. As people practice, preserve, and pass on customs and rituals, they create a shared history and a sense of connection over time.

Traditions help individuals understand and embrace their roots, creating a strong foundation for their sense of self . Furthermore, when these customs are passed down, generational gaps are bridged as the younger generation gains insights into the experiences, values, and beliefs of their predecessors.

This enhances their appreciation and understanding of their cultural heritage, thus promoting social cohesion.

In a rapidly changing world where globalization and technological advances can result in cultural erosion or assimilation, traditions act as a stabilizing force . They remind people of their unique identity, fostering a sense of belonging and pride. As a result, traditions contribute to the resilience and continuity of communities in the face of change.

Maintaining continuity through traditions also plays a crucial role in both personal and collective well-being. The comfort, stability, and predictability provided by familiar customs and routines can alleviate stress and anxiety, especially during challenging times.

Thus, traditions function as a:

  • Support system
  • Reinforcing bonds
  • Sense of security within communities

Traditions Enhance Belonging

Feeling accepted and included has significant positive effects on a person’s well-being, promoting physical and mental health.

When people participate in shared rituals and customs, they develop a stronger bond with one another. Communal experiences foster a sense of inclusion and deepen connections between individuals, which can enhance their support system.

These bonds can be especially beneficial during difficult times, as people rely on their like-minded community for emotional and practical support.

For instance, annual cultural celebrations or religious gatherings encourage individuals to engage with others who share the same values and beliefs. Being part of these events often creates a feeling of pride and honor, ultimately satisfying a person’s innate desire for attachment and recognition.

In smaller settings, such as family gatherings or neighborhood events, traditions can help strengthen interpersonal relationships by allowing people to share their unique stories and experiences.

This exchange of personal narratives enriches the overall sense of belonging , as everyone contributes their distinct perspective to the collective identity.

Traditions Connect People to Their Cultural Roots

Traditions connect people to their cultural roots and give them a sense of belonging. By understanding and practicing traditions, individuals are able to express their identity and maintain a connection with their cultural and ancestral heritage.

Participating in traditional activities helps to reinforce the values , beliefs , and social norms associated with one’s culture.

This is important because it can help individuals develop a strong sense of self, promote confidence, and allow them to feel proud of their cultural background. In turn, this aids them in developing a greater understanding and respect for the diverse identities and cultures of others.

It’s important to note that cultural identity reinforcement isn’t limited to nationality or ethnicity .

It can also pertain to religious, regional, or social practices that have been passed down through generations. This wide range of connections serves to strengthen and support the individual’s personal identity, allowing them to navigate the complexities of modern society.

Traditions Foster Unity

Traditions play a significant role in fostering unity among individuals, families, and communities. By participating in shared practices and customs, people come together and strengthen their bonds with one another.

During gatherings such as weddings, holidays, or religious events, traditions often serve as a common ground for everyone involved. No matter their background or personal beliefs, individuals can put aside their differences and unite in the celebration of a shared ritual or custom.

This not only promotes a sense of belonging but also instills a feeling of collective identity.

As children learn and participate in these customs alongside their elders, a connection between the past and present is formed. This bridge between generations fosters an appreciation for those who came before and allows for the sharing of valuable knowledge and experiences.

In a world where diversity and individualism are increasingly valued, it is essential to recognize the role traditions can play in maintaining unity. By preserving and celebrating shared customs, we can help forge a sense of interconnectedness, promote harmony, and create a more united society.

Traditions play a crucial role in strengthening relationships within a community. By participating in shared customs, individuals develop deeper bonds with those around them. This connectedness fosters a sense of belonging and cultivates supportive networks.

When people engage in common practice, they build mutual understanding and empathy , essential elements for healthy and sustainable relationships.

Traditions often provide an opportunity for frequent interaction among family members, friends, or neighbors. These encounters form the foundation of strong relationships that support us emotionally and socially.

Many traditions are centered around celebrations and special events. These occasions create fun and joyful memories that further unite community members. Joyful moments are associated with positive emotions, leading to a stronger emotional bond with those who shared the experience.

One significant reason why traditions are important is the respect they foster for generations that have come before. Traditions often carry the wisdom and values of ancestors, providing a sense of continuity and connection to the past.

When families and communities uphold these customs, it reflects a deep appreciation and understanding of the experiences and sacrifices made by their forebears.

By preserving and practicing traditions, people can demonstrate their gratitude to past generations while also teaching these core values to the younger members.

This intergenerational exchange enables the youth to build a strong foundation of their identity rooted in their history and heritage. Furthermore, it instills in them the importance of honoring the collective memory and acknowledging the struggles of their ancestors.

Traditions Preserve Values within Societies

They offer a reliable framework for preserving and passing on cultural, ethical, and moral principles to future generations. By engaging in time-honored customs , individuals are better able to understand and appreciate the core beliefs that have shaped their communities.

For instance, traditional ceremonies often emphasize the importance of family , friendship , and community .

Through observing and participating in these events, people are reminded of their sense of belonging and shared identity. As a result, they are encouraged to uphold common values that contribute to the well-being and stability of the group.

By following established customs, individuals learn the correct way to behave in specific situations and develop a strong, consistent moral compass . This promotes harmony within society, as individuals know what is expected of them and are able to navigate social interactions more effectively.

Traditions Encourage Education Within Communities

By instilling the importance of education in younger generations, traditions foster a culture of learning and growth. In many societies, education is considered the key to success and prosperity , making it a vital aspect in perpetuating traditional values.

One way traditions promote education is by associating it with cultural pride.

For instance, specific communities may have a history of producing renowned scholars , scientists , or artists , who serve as sources of inspiration. This sense of pride can motivate individuals to pursue knowledge and excel in their chosen fields, continuing the legacy of their predecessors.

Traditions can provide a framework for educational practices, such as rites of passage that mark significant milestones in an individual’s educational journey.

These ceremonies often entail rituals , dances , or feasts , which can foster a sense of accomplishment and responsibility among learners. By recognizing the importance of educational achievements, traditions contribute to the cultivation of a responsible, knowledgeable, and skilled society.

Many cultural practices and customs are passed down through generations as valuable sources of wisdom, local history, and specialized skills. This knowledge, which is often inseparable from the community’s identity, can only be sustained through the value placed on education within the context of tradition.

Traditions play a crucial role in shaping our identity, fostering a sense of belonging, and connecting us to our past. They serve as a bridge between generations, allowing us to preserve our cultural heritage and maintain a sense of continuity in an ever-changing world.

However, with the rapid pace of modern life and globalization, it can be challenging to keep our traditions alive.

In this section, we’ll explore ten effective ways to preserve and celebrate the traditions that make us who we are:

  • Educate the younger generation : Teach children and younger family members about the significance of traditions and how they connect us to our history, culture, and identity.
  • Document your traditions : Write down stories, recipes, customs, and other important details associated with your traditions, creating a record that can be shared with future generations.
  • Celebrate regularly : Observe and participate in traditional celebrations, holidays, and events, keeping the associated customs and rituals alive.
  • Involve the community : Encourage your community to participate in traditional activities and support local events that promote your culture.
  • Embrace technology : Use social media, blogs, and other digital platforms to share and celebrate your traditions, making them accessible to a wider audience.
  • Create opportunities for learning : Organize workshops, classes, or seminars to teach people about the history, significance, and practices associated with your traditions.
  • Adapt and evolve : Recognize that traditions can change and adapt over time, while still retaining their core values and significance. Be open to new ideas and ways of celebrating your traditions.
  • Support traditional artisans and craftspeople : Preserve traditional craftsmanship by purchasing products made by skilled artisans and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Collaborate with cultural institutions : Partner with museums, libraries, and cultural centers to host events and exhibitions showcasing your traditions, increasing public awareness and appreciation.
  • Foster intergenerational connections : Encourage dialogue and shared experiences between older and younger generations to ensure that traditions continue to be passed down and preserved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Traditions differ between cultures as they reflect the unique history, values, beliefs, and customs of each group or society.

These distinctions arise from various factors such as geography, religion, language, and historical events that shape the development of a particular culture. As a result, traditions become the living embodiment of a culture’s distinct identity, offering a rich tapestry of diverse practices and rituals across the globe. 

From the vibrant celebrations of one community to the solemn ceremonies of another, these varied traditions captivate and educate us about the fascinating complexity and diversity of human experience.

By engaging with and appreciating these differences, we foster greater understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the countless ways in which traditions enrich our world.

Yes, traditions can be changed or reformed over time, as they are dynamic expressions of culture, family, or social group that evolve in response to shifting values, beliefs, and circumstances.

Societal changes, technological advancements, and cross-cultural influences can all contribute to the transformation of traditional practices. 

As people adapt and innovate, they may modify, reinterpret, or abandon certain traditions to better align with contemporary norms and expectations. This process of change can be challenging, as it often involves reconciling deep-rooted customs with new ideas and perspectives.

However, the evolution of tradition is an essential aspect of human progress, allowing us to embrace growth and maintain relevance while still honoring the wisdom and heritage of our past.

Not all traditions are necessarily beneficial, as some practices may have negative consequences or perpetuate outdated values and beliefs that conflict with contemporary understanding and societal progress.

Some traditions might inadvertently promote division , discrimination , or harm to individuals or communities. 

It is essential to critically examine and assess the impact of traditions on people’s well-being and social harmony. Recognizing and addressing the potential harm of certain practices enables us to make informed decisions about whether to preserve, modify, or abandon a tradition.

By engaging in open dialogue and thoughtful reflection, we can better understand the implications of various traditions and work towards fostering practices that enrich our lives, promote unity, and uphold the values we hold dear.

Tradition is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of human culture, shaping our identities, values, and connections to the past. As we explore the diverse tapestry of traditions across the globe, we gain a deeper appreciation for the richness of human experience and the wisdom it imparts. 

While some traditions may evolve or become outdated, their essence remains a vital thread in the fabric of our collective heritage.

By engaging with and understanding traditions, we can work together to preserve the practices that enrich our lives, foster unity, and celebrate our shared humanity while also ensuring that we embrace positive change and growth for a better future.

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Aerielle Ezra

Aerielle Ezra is an enthusiastic student of architecture who has a wide range of interests, including psychology, lifestyle, and relationships. Apart from her studies, she also likes to engage in athletic activities, particularly volleyball. When she is not playing, she spends her free time watching her preferred sitcoms or reading her favorite books, which include fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Home / Essay Samples / Arts & Cultures / World Cultures / Tradition

The Importance of Culture and Traditions for Identity in Society

Essay details

Science , Arts & Cultures

World Cultures

Science and Culture , Tradition

  • Words: 870 (2 pages)

Importance of Culture and Traditions Essay

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

Introduction, the impact of culture and tradition, the establishment of culture and tradition on different levels.

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Essays about Culture and Identity: 9 Examples And Prompts

Writing essays about culture and identity will help you explore your understanding of it. Here are examples that will give you inspiration for your next essay.

Culture can refer to customs, traditions, beliefs, lifestyles, laws, artistic expressions, and other elements that cultivate the collective identity. Different cultures are established across nations, regions, communities, and social groups. They are passed on from generation to generation while others evolve or are abolished to give way to modern beliefs and systems.

While our cultural identity begins at home, it changes as we involve ourselves with other groups (friends, educational institutions, social media communities, political groups, etc.) Culture is a very relatable subject as every person is part of a culture or at least can identify with one. Because it spans broad coverage, there are several interesting cultural subjects to write about.

Our culture and identity are dynamic. This is why you may find it challenging to write about it. To spark your inspiration, check out our picks of the best culture essays. 

1. Sweetness and Light by Matthew Arnolds

2. how auto-tune revolutionized the sound of popular music by simon reynolds, 3. how immigration changes language by john mcwhorter, 4. the comfort zone: growing up with charlie brown by jonathan franzen, 5. culture and identity definition by sandra graham, 6. how culture and surroundings influence identity by jeanette lucas, 7. how the food we eat reflects our culture and identity by sophia stephens, 8. identity and culture: my identity, culture, and identity by april casas, 9. how america hinders the cultural identity of their own citizens by seth luna, 1. answer the question, “who am i”, 2. causes of culture shock, 3. your thoughts on dystopia and utopia, 4. gender inequality from a global perspective, 5. the most interesting things you learned from other cultures, 6. the relationship between cultural identity and clothes, 7. describe your culture, 8. what is the importance of honoring your roots , 9. how can a person adapt to a new culture, 10. what artistic works best express your country’s culture, 11. how has social media influenced human interaction, 12. how do you protect the cultures of indigenous peoples, 13. are k-pop and k-drama sensations effectively promoting korea’s culture , 14. what is the importance of cultural diversity.

“… [A]nd when every man may say what he likes, our aspirations ought to be satisfied. But the aspirations of culture, which is the study of perfection, are not satisfied, unless what men say, when they may say what they like, is worth saying,—has good in it, and more good than bad.”

Arnolds compels a re-examination of values at a time when England is leading global industrialization and beginning to believe that greatness is founded on material progress. 

The author elaborates why culture, the strive for a standard of perfection, is not merely driven by scientific passions and, more so, by materialistic affluence. As he esteems religion as “that voice of the deepest human experience” to harmonize men in establishing that ideal society, Arnolds stresses that culture is the effort to “make reason and the will of God prevail” while humanizing gained knowledge to be society’s source of “sweetness and light.”

“Few innovations in sound production have been simultaneously so reviled and so revolutionary. Epoch-defining or epoch-defacing, Auto-Tune is indisputably the sound of the 21st century so far.”

Reynolds shows how Auto-Tune has shaped a pop music genre that has cut across cultures. The article maps out the music landscape Auto-Tune created and examines its impact on the culture of song productions and the modern taste for music. While the author debunks accusations that Auto-Tune destroyed the “natural” process of creating music, he also points out that the technology earned its reverence with big thanks to society’s current custom of using technology to hide blemishes and other imperfections.

Looking for more? Check out these essays about culture shock .

“… [T]he heavy immigration that countries like Italy are experiencing will almost certainly birth new kinds of Italian that are rich with slang, somewhat less elaborate than the standard, and… widely considered signs of linguistic deterioration, heralding a future where the “original” standard language no longer exists.”

American linguist McWhorter pacifies fears over the death of “standard” languages amid the wave of immigration to Europe. On the contrary, language is a vital expression of a culture, and for some, preserving is tantamount to upholding a cultural standard. 

However, instead of seeing the rise of new “multiethnolects” such as the Black English in America and Kiezdeutsch in Germany as threats to language and culture, McWhorter sees them as a new way to communicate and better understand the social groups that forayed these new languages.

“I wonder why “cartoonish” remains such a pejorative. It took me half my life to achieve seeing my parents as cartoons. And to become more perfectly a cartoon myself: what a victory that would be.”

This essay begins with a huge fight between Franzen’s brother and father to show how the cultural generation gap sweeping the 60s has hit closer to home. This generation gap, where young adults were rejecting the elders’ old ways in pursuit of a new and better culture, will also be the reason why his family ends up drifting apart. Throughout the essay, Franzen treads this difficult phase in his youth while narrating fondly how Peanuts, a pop culture icon at the time, was his source of escape. 

“…Culture is… your background… and Identity is formed where you belong to… Leopold Sedar Senghor and Shirley Geok-Lin Lim both talks about how culture and identity can impact… society…”

In this essay, Graham uses “To New York” by Senghor and “Learning To Love America” by Lim as two pieces of literature that effectively describe the role of culture and identity to traveling individuals. 

The author refers to Sengho’s reminder that people can adapt but must not forget their culture even if they go to a different place or country. On the other hand, Lim discusses immigrants’ struggle to have double identities.

“Culture is something that surrounds all of us and progress to shape our lives every day… Identity is illustrated as the state of mind in which someone or something distinguishes their own character traits that lead to determining who they really are, what they represent.”

Lucas is keen on giving examples of how his culture and surroundings influence an individual’s identity. She refers to Kothari’s “If you are what you eat, then what am I?” which discusses Kothari’s search for her identity depending on what food she eats. Food defines a person’s culture and identity, so Kothari believes that eating food from different countries will change his identity.

Lucas also refers to “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas, which argues how different cultural and environmental factors affect us. Because of what we encounter, there is a possibility that we will become someone who we are not. 

“What we grow is who we are. What we buy is who we are. What we eat is who we are.”

Stephens’ essay teaches its readers that the food we grow and eat defines us as a person. She explains that growing a crop and harvesting it takes a lot of effort, dedication, and patience, which mirrors our identity. 

Another metaphor she used is planting rice: it takes skills and knowledge to make it grow. Cooking rice is more accessible than cultivating it – you can quickly cook rice by boiling it in water. This reflects people rich in culture and tradition but who lives simpler life. 

“Every single one has their own unique identity and culture. Culture plays a big role in shaping your identity. Culture is what made me the person I am today and determines who or what I choose to associate myself with.”

Casas starts her piece by questioning who she is. In trying to learn and define who she is, she writes down and describes herself and her personality throughout the essay. Finally, she concludes that her culture is a big part of her identity, and she must understand it to understand herself.

“When it comes to these stereotypes we place on each other, a lot of the time, we succumb to the stereotypes given to us. And our cultural identity is shaped by these expectations and labels others give us. That is why negative stereotypes sometimes become true for a whole group or community.”

In this essay, Luna talks about how negative stereotyping in the United States led to moral distortion. For example, Americans are assumed to be ignorant of other countries’ cultures, making it difficult to understand other people’s cultures and lifestyles. 

She believes that stereotyping can significantly affect an individual or group’s identity. She suggests Americans should improve their intellectual competence by being sensitive to other people’s cultures.

14 Prompts on Essays about Culture and Identity

You can discuss many things on the subject of culture and identity. To give you a starting point, here are some prompts to help you write an exciting essay about culture. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips and our round-up of the best essay checkers .

Understanding your personality is vital since continuous interaction with others can affect your personality. Write about your culture and identity; what is your personality? How do you define yourself? Everyone is unique, so by writing an essay about who you are, you’ll be able to understand why you act a certain way and connect with readers who have the same values. 

Here’s a guide on writing a descriptive essay to effectively relay your experience to your readers.

Sometimes, people need to get out of their comfort zone and interact with other individuals with different cultures, beliefs, or traditions. This is to broaden one’s perspective about the world. Aside from discussing what you’ve learned in that journey, you can also focus on the bits that shocked you. 

You can talk about a tradition or value that you found so bizarre because it differs from your culture. Then add how you processed it and finally adapted to it.

Essays about Culture and Identity: Your Thoughts on Dystopia and Utopia

Dystopia and Utopia are both imagined worlds. Dystopia is a world where people live in the worst or most unfavorable conditions, while Utopia is the opposite. 

You can write an essay about what you think a Dystopian or Utopian world may look like, how these societies will affect their citizens, etc. Then, consider what personality citizens of each world may have to depend on the two worlds’ cultures.

Today, more and more people are fighting for others to accept or at least respect the LGBTQ+ community. However, countries, territories, and religions still question their rights.

In your essay, you can talk about why these institutions react the way they do and how culture dictates someone’s identity in the wrong way. Before creating your own, feel free to read other essays and articles to learn more about the global gender inequality issue. 

The world has diverse cultures, traditions, and values. When you travel to a new place, learning and writing about your firsthand experiences with unique cultures and rituals will always be an interesting read.

In this prompt, you’ll research other cultures and how they shaped their group’s identity. Then, write about the most exciting aspects you’ve learned, why you found them fascinating, and how they differ from your culture.

Those proud of their culture will wear clothes inspired by them. Some wear the same clothes even if they aren’t from the same culture. The debate over cultural appropriation and culture appreciation is still a hot topic. 

In this essay, you may start with the traditions of your community or observances your family celebrates and gathers for. Then, elaborate on their origins and describe how your community or family is preserving these practices. 

Learning about your roots, ancestors, and family cultures can help strengthen your understanding of your identity and foster respect for other cultures. Explore this topic and offer examples of what others have learned. Has the journey always been a positive experience? Delve into this question for an engaging and interesting essay.

When a person moves country, it can be challenging to adapt to a new culture. If there are new people at work or school, you can interview them and ask how they are coping with their new environment. How different is this from what they have been used to, and what unique traditions do they find interesting?

Focus on an art piece that is a source of pride and identity to your country’s culture, much like the Tinikling of the Philippines or the Matryoshka dolls of Russia. Explore its origins and evolution up to its current manifestation and highlight efforts that are striving to protect and promote these artistic works.

The older generation did not have computers in their teen years. Ask about how they dated in their younger years and how they made friends. Contrast how the younger generation is building their social networks today. Write what culture of socialization works better for you and explain why.

Take in-depth navigation of existing policies that protect indigenous peoples. Are they sufficient to serve these communities needs, and are they being implemented effectively? There is also the challenge of balancing the protection of these traditions against the need to protect the environment, as some indigenous practices add to the carbon footprint. How is your government dealing with this challenge?

A large population is now riding the Hallyu or the Korean pop culture, with many falling in love with the artists and Korea’s food, language, and traditional events. Research how certain Korean films, TV series, or music have effectively attracted fans to experience Korea’s culture. Write about what countries can learn from Korea in promoting their own cultures.

Environments that embrace cultural diversity are productive and innovative. To start your essay, assess how diverse your workplace or school is. Then, write your personal experiences where working with co-workers or classmates from different cultures led to new and innovative ideas and projects. Combine this with the personal experiences of your boss or the principal to see how your environment benefits from hosting a melting pot of cultures.

If you aim for your article to effectively change readers’ perspectives and align with your opinion, read our guide to achieving persuasive writing . 

traditional customs essay

Aisling is an Irish journalist and content creator with a BA in Journalism & New Media. She has bylines in OK! Magazine, Metro, The Inquistr, and the Irish Examiner. She loves to read horror and YA. Find Aisling on LinkedIn .

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Home — Essay Samples — Sociology — Social Cohesion — Exploring the Significance of Traditional Culture


Exploring The Significance of Traditional Culture

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Education About Asia: Online Archives

Bringing traditional chinese culture to life.

This issue of Education About Asia addresses the question, “What should we know about Asia?” Based on my experiences teaching courses on China and East Asia, traditional Chinese culture is one of the most important topics in understanding both past and present Asia. China has one of the world’s oldest civilizations. This poses many challenges to teachers who desire to make this rich and complex tradition accessible to their students. On both a temporal and spatial level, traditional China may seem far removed to Western students of the modern world. To bridge these gaps in time and space, and to make it more relevant to my students, I often connect its significance to contemporary society by highlighting the current appeal of learning about traditional Chinese culture in modern China. To demonstrate this process, this article examines examples from three cultural fields: Chinese philosophy, focusing on Confucius and his thought; Chinese history, with an illustration from the Shiji ; and Chinese literature, with a case study on plum blossom poems. Moreover, this article discusses how to develop course questions that are relevant to the students’ needs, as well as how to update teaching styles by incorporating multimedia sources, such as current news and films, in the classroom in order to appeal to students of the digital age. Furthermore, the examples and approaches outlined in this article are applicable to a wide variety of courses, including, but not limited to, Chinese literature, history, philosophy, or world history. It is hoped that this article may therefore encourage teachers across many disciplines to incorporate these techniques, as well as their own innovations, in their classrooms.

Confucius and His Thought

Confucian thought played an important role in shaping Chinese culture and identity. In order to make this complex philosophy more engaging, I utilize the “What Did Confucius Say?” articles from the Asia for Educators website, which is hosted by Columbia University.1 This reading material is concise and contains seven major sections grouped according to various topics, including primary sources and discussion questions. The first two sections cover the life and major ideas of Confucius, and provide the background and main features of the Analects of Confucius . For instance, the reading informs users that the Analects of Confucius is not a single work composed by Confucius (551–479 BCE) during his lifetime, but rather multiple writings compiled by Confucius’s disciples after his death. The Analects are also a useful starting point for students to encounter traditional Chinese culture due to the format of the text itself. Students frequently perceive that in many of these stories, Confucius engages in either a monologue or a conversation with his disciples or a ruler to articulate his ideas. Moreover, Confucius’s words are terse and concise, leaving room for various interpretations, thereby promoting a lively class discussion.

painting of an old man in robes

When designing class activities, I include some of the discussion questions from the reading material on the website into my own questions in order to unpack both the meaning of his sayings in their own cultural context, as well as their current appeal in contemporary society. These questions are well-designed for high school and undergraduate instructors. The first few questions come from the website and are always based on a primary source in order to ensure the students understand the text. I then follow up these general comprehension questions with my own questions in order to place Confucius’s sayings into a larger intellectual and social context by asking students to apply Confucian thought to modern and contemporary issues. To prepare for class discussion, I may ask students to read some passages together or invite individual students to take turns reading them aloud, followed by their interpretations of the text’s meaning and broader significance. For example, one primary source comes from “On Confucius as Teacher and Person,” which includes Confucius’s sayings on education. I assign students the following discussion questions:

  • Why is Confucius often called a great teacher? Please note several qualities of Confucius’s teaching philosophy as demonstrated by his sayings.
  • If Confucius were your teacher today, how would you evaluate his teaching approaches and methods? Would you want to attend his class? Why or why not? Students are then able to discuss these questions based on a close reading of the document itself. For instance, the students learn that Confucius broke away from the traditional education system of his time, which had been limited to teaching the sons of noble families. In contrast, he allegedly would teach anyone who was willing to learn. In addition, he taught students with different approaches according to their own situations and characters. As a teacher, he showed his eagerness to learn from other people and improve his knowledge and skills, stating that “Walking along with three people, my teacher is sure to be among them.”2

Another important Confucian thought is the concept of ren (humanity). In this section, I demonstrate that some of Confucius’s sayings possess universal value, and thus, everyone can relate Confucius’s primary beliefs regardless of their own personal knowledge and backgrounds. The discussion questions below are used to facilitate students’ understanding of this concept and allow them to compare it to other traditions:

  • Based on the reading section, what qualities does humanity include? Could you use some examples to illustrate Confucius’s ideas on humanity?
  • Humanity is a universal value in many philosophies and religions. Please discuss the similarities and differences between Confucians’ humanity and other traditions that you are familiar with, such as Christianity or Buddhism. Although Confucius’s beliefs, such as humanity, have many similarities with other philosophical and religious traditions, some of Confucius’s values, such as filial piety, are different from Western cultural traditions. Filial piety is the core of Confucian moral philosophy, but it may be difficult for students outside of the Chinese tradition to understand, thus instructors must explain it and similar concepts in detail. To this end, I provide the following discussion questions:
  • What are the major ideas of Confucius’s filial piety?
  • Why do Chinese rulers promote and advocate this concept?
  • If you were to apply filial piety to your family, what would happen? Do you think that filial piety applies to modern Western society? Why or why not?

To make these abstract concepts more concrete, I also ask students to offer specific examples to explain filial piety and its reciprocity. For instance, Confucius teaches that younger family members should respect their family elders, and in return, the elders have an obligation to take care of their younger family members. When explaining this, instructors should emphasize that this kind of relationship is hierarchical and that it was later advocated by rulers in different dynasties to legitimize their power by equating the ruler to the head of the family. When discussing filial piety, the instructor must also highlight its societal significance and philosophical ramifications. For instance, Confucian scholars maintained that if family members showed filial piety, then they would become peaceful and harmonious. Moreover, because society consists of many small families that make up the state, following this logic, a society that practices filial piety will naturally become well organized. Therefore, these scholars argued, a ruler should not rely on severe laws and regulations to govern his state; instead, a ruler should lead by exemplary deeds and moral values. Thus, students will learn that Confucian values such as filial piety affected all aspects of traditional Chinese culture, from the individual household to the governing state itself.

painting of an old man in robes

After students have grappled with the original texts and their historical significance, I then assign them Jeremy Page’s 2015 Wall Street Journal article “Why China Is Turning Back to Confucius”3 in order to further demonstrate the current appeal of Confucian thought on modern Chinese society. Page begins by describing a lecture on Chinese philosophy that many senior Chinese officials attended in order to further understand Confucian values and how to apply them in their daily lives. He then discusses the causes behind this revival of traditional Chinese culture (i.e., Confucianism), such as coping with domestic social problems, legitimating the Communist Party’s rule by arguing that it has inherited the Confucian tradition, and opposing Western influence. In addition, the article briefly traces the reception of Confucianism from the 1840s to the present and discusses many ways that contemporary Chinese society commemorates Confucius, such as establishing monuments, opening Confucian academies and training centers, and holding museum exhibitions and lectures.

In class, I first briefly discuss Confucius’s fluctuating status from the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911) to the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), when his thought was largely criticized and condemned. This provides a historical context behind the return that contemporary Chinese society is making toward the study and appreciation of Confucian ideology. It also enables students to understand how the traditional Confucian value of obeying a ruler’s orders is being utilized to keep the present government in power . As students discuss this article, many observe that the top Chinese leaders attend Confucian classics courses and workshops, and even tune in to national television broadcasts and lectures on Confucian thought during primetime. In addition, they discover that school textbooks include more materials that encompass traditional values, and parents send their children to learn Confucian rituals as part of their extracurricular activities. After discussing these newly developing trends in Chinese society today, students often conclude that the Chinese government wants to revive traditional Chinese culture rooted in Confucianism in order to promote the “China Dream” and build a harmonious society. Moreover, Chinese leaders want to gain wisdom from indigenous Chinese culture to help solve contemporary problems, such as government corruption and the decline of moral integrity, while simultaneously opposing strong Western political and cultural influence. However, I make sure that students also know that Confucianism is but one historical tradition that influences China’s political leaders. For example, legalism, which dates back to even before the establishment of China’s first empire, the Qin in 221 BCE, is equally influential on the policies of Chinese leaders in many ways. Historically and in contemporary times, it can sometimes have ominous results for elements of the Chinese population. Instructors interested in making sure their students have an understanding of legalism are advised to access the Columbia University Asia for Educators website.4

Record of the Grand Historian

Another important aspect of Chinese culture is Chinese history. The Shiji ( Record of the Grand Historian ), written from the late second century BCE to 86 BCE, is the foundational text of Chinese history and covers a broad historical spectrum from the mythical Yellow Emperor to Emperor Wu (156–87 BCE) of the Western Han dynasty (202 BCE–8). The class is introduced to the Shiji through a survey of its content, time span, the motivations behind its compilation, and major subdivisions within the work. For instance, students learn that the government did not sponsor the Shiji , and so did not dictate its contents. Rather, it was Sima Tan (ca. 165–110 BCE) who initially conducted the Shiji project, but his son, Sima Qian (ca. 145–86 BCE), actually compiled this monumental masterpiece in order to fulfill his father’s posthumous will. Moreover, Sima Qian fell out of favor with Emperor Wu because he defended Li Ling (134–74 BCE), a Han dynasty general, who defected to the Xiongnu nomadic tribes to the north of China. Sima Qian was ultimately punished for this by undergoing the humiliation of castration. In addition to these family and personal reasons for compiling the Shiji , Sima Qian also sought to establish a lineage of great historical figures who would otherwise have been forgotten in history. These factors strongly influenced what type of historical figures Sima Qian selected for the Shiji , the ways in which he narrated their accounts, and the conclusions he reached about them, as well as the lessons they represented for society as a whole. In general, Sima Qian emphasized the moral value and social impact of historical figures rather than their social or political status.

In my class, I select some biographies to discuss, among which is “The Biographies of the Assassin-Retainers.”5 Here I use the biography of Jing Ke (d. 227 BCE) as an example of how I lead class discussion, integrate the Shiji through film, and highlight its appeal in a contemporary context for students.6 The Jing Ke story took place toward the end of the Warring States Period (475–221 BCE), when the state of Qin had already annexed several rival states and had set its target on the state of Yan in the north. Prince Dan of Yan (d. 226 BCE) consulted his officials about this important issue, and a senior official named Tian Guang (d. 227 BCE) suggested that the prince should hire Jing Ke to assassinate the King of Qin (259–210 BCE). In order to gain an audience with the King of Qin, Jing Ke requested three items: the map of Dukang (part of Yan’s territory), a poisonous dagger, and the head of General Fan (d. 227 BCE), a traitor to the state of Qin. After obtaining these items, Jing Ke was granted an audience with the king in the Qin court. Jing Ke concealed the dagger inside the map scroll and unrolled it to its end. Suddenly, he grabbed the dagger from the scroll and attempted to kidnap the king as a hostage, but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the king and his courtiers killed Jing Ke. After reading this story, students must first summarize the text’s plot, as well as the major characters and their personalities. To engage critically in understanding the historical narrative, students discuss the following questions:

  • Why is Jing Ke willing to accept Prince Dan of Yan’s order and carry out this assassination?
  • How do you understand Jing Ke’s complex personality and psychological state? • Jing Ke was a failed assassin, yet he is glorified in Sima Qian’s record. Please consider Sima Qian’s own situation to explain why Jing Ke is immortalized and praised.
  • In your opinion, is Jing Ke a hero? Why or why not? Students brainstorm different points and piece them together on the whiteboard to understand the history of the Warring States, the knight-errant culture, and the reception of the Jing Ke story. In addition, I explain the possible connection between Sima Qian’s choice of Jing Ke and his own life experiences.

To relate the Jing Ke story with contemporary Chinese society, I then show students parts of two film adaptations of the tale: Chen Kaige’s The Emperor and the Assassin and Zhang Yimou’s Hero , which are available through YouTube for a nominal fee. The former follows the standard historical narration fairly closely, while the latter changes the content substantially; however, students are still able to link the story with the film. In order to make this discussion more lively, students are required to complete a homework assignment on the following questions: How have the two films adapted the Jing Ke lore? What are their major changes? How do you evaluate these changes; are they successful or not? Through this exercise, students learn that the major plot of The Emperor and the Assassin is based on historical narration, with the exception of a new character— Lady Zhao—who is not found in any historical narrative. Students are to explain why this new role might have been created. Several factors shed light on this addition: since this is a three-hour-long, big-budget movie, the director may have been considering the box office results. More importantly, the purpose behind creating this role could have been to create a more complex and romantic plot. Even the director acknowledged in an interview that “Designing such a character like Lady Zhao cannot be said to have been done out of a lack of consideration for the plot. If I produced and shot a purely twoman story, it may not have had such a good effect.”7

photo of chinese writing

Lady Zhao ultimately provides a link between the King of Qin and Jing Ke. When she is young, she admires Yingzheng’s (the King of Qin) courage and political ambition. However, when she later realizes that Yingzheng occupies the state of Zhao by slaughtering many innocent people, she turns to Jing Ke for help to stop such brutality. This additional character provides new possible interpretations of the motivations behind Jing Ke’s assassination attempt, which stems not only from his loyalty to Prince Dan, but also from his righteousness in desiring to remove a brutal ruler. This modern adaptation increases the significance of Jing Ke’s mission. In Zhang’s film Hero , students identify the major change of the assassin abandoning his mission to kill the king, where the assassin instead engages in a direct dialogue with the king in the Qin court. Through their conversation, the assassin comes to understand that the king wants to defeat all other kingdoms and unify China in order to bring peace to all people under heaven. Students then discuss their implications of this change. Often, students are critical towards this adaptation because it glorifies the King of Qin and conveys a problematic and debatable message to the audience that a ruler can adopt any method or make any sacrifice to achieve one’s goal, as long as one’s intention is good or meaningful.

These films demonstrate how contemporary approaches to narrating the story of Jing Ke continue to provide different interpretations of the story and its significance. The discussion about the Jing Ke lore has switched from focusing on the details of his assassination attempt to adapting his story to fit the contemporary needs of strengthening nationalism and Chinese identity. The promotion of a strong “nation-state” ideology by Chinese leaders has played an important role in shaping this reception. Contemporary society portrays him as a national hero, a strong man attempting to remove an evil and despotic ruler, and a knight-errant who embodies the traditional moral values of China in the face of Western influence during China’s rapid economic development, through which intellectuals can further probe China’s recent past and thus bring history to life.

Poems on Things and Objects

Along with Chinese philosophy and history, literature also plays an important role in Chinese culture, particularly poetry, which was the dominant literary subgenre throughout premodern Chinese history. This section provides a creative approach not only on how to teach classical Chinese poems, but also on integrating them within a type of traditional art—blow painting. By exploring this topic, students develop a solid understanding of Chinese poetry, learn the cultural meaning of the plum blossom, and express their own appreciation for Chinese poetry. 8

The plum blossom is famous, along with the orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum, as one of “The Four Gentlemen” in China. Furthermore, it is considered one of “The Three Friends in Winter,” together with pine trees and bamboo. However, plum trees are not common in the US, nor do they carry a significant cultural value, so the topic naturally stimulates student interest. Before we approach the topic of the plum blossom, my students have already studied other Chinese poems, so I briefly review some basic features of Chinese poetry, particularly the Chinese quatrain, which is often made up of four lines with five or seven characters in each line, and regulated verse, which is often made up of eight lines, and each line includes either five or seven characters. These two types of poetry were popular in the Tang dynasty (608–907), known as the golden age of Chinese poetry.9 Next, students gather information on the cultural meaning of the plum blossom and answer the following questions: How and when do Chinese people discuss plum blossoms? What does the plum blossom mean in Chinese society? What interesting facts do you know about the plum blossom? What can you learn from the symbolic meanings of plum blossoms? Students find appropriate information online and in the library about plum blossom culture and outline their primary ideas on the topic. Through class discussion, students also discover that the plum blossom has profound cultural connotations in China. The plum blossom symbolizes courage and strength because the fragrance of plum blossoms comes out of bitterness and coldness. The plum blossom also represents endurance and perseverance because plum blossoms flower in winter while most other plants do not survive. Furthermore, the plum blossom also embodies purity and lofty ideals, possibly because they bloom in winter, often covered with snow. To explore this motif, I incorporate several poems on plum blossoms in the lesson. Here are two examples from Shao Yong (1011–1077) and Wang Anshi (1021–1086):

A Leisure Walk by Shao Yong Once upon a time, we walk leisurely for two or three miles On the way, we see four or five misty villages Six or seven temples and Eight, nine or ten branches of plum blossom10

This poem is easy to understand but demonstrates the major characteristics of Song (960–1279) poetry, which focuses on the details of daily life. The poet’s focus gradually shifts from distant scenery to a closer look at his surroundings. At the beginning, the poet is far away, so he cannot see things clearly. When he moves closer, he sees the pavilions and houses. Looking even closer, he notices plum blossoms. The language in this poem is simple and clear without any descriptive words, but students still identify the poet’s cheerful mood and recognize that this is a pleasant experience. This is typical in Shao’s poems; as modern scholar Xiaoshan Yang states, “Shao Yong was always keen on distinguishing himself as a man of true joy and leisure from those who could only ‘steal leisure’ for a fleeting moment.”11 After discussing the content of the poem, I highlight the word “misty” in the first couplet, which, rather than denoting smoke caused by fire, instead is used to depict the remote villages. Because one cannot see the villages clearly in the distance, it seems like they are surrounded by mist. Another possibility is that many families had been cooking, hence smoke from their chimneys could be obscuring the poet’s vision and creating this phenomenon.

The second poem that I use on this topic is a five-character quatrain:

Plum Blossoms by Wang Anshi In the nook of a wall a few plum sprays, In solitude blossom on the bleak winter days, From the distance, I see they cannot be snow, For a stealthy breath of perfume hither flows.12

In this quatrain, the poet encourages his readers to make use of their senses such as sight and smell. This poem does not focus on the appearance of the plum blossoms, but rather on their character and spirit. Students often note that these plum blossoms appear in the corner of a wall during winter, which is unlikely to draw the attention of many people, revealing the unique character of the poet. In addition, without much nutrients, they still manage to blossom, demonstrating their hardiness. Furthermore, the last couplet forms a reverse causality: the third line tells the reader the result of noticing that the things in the distance are not snow; the fourth line informs the readers why the poet believes this is so: they are fragrant and cannot be snow. Thus, without describing the color of the plum blossoms themselves, the reader knows that they are either a white variety or are covered by snow, so they seem like snow when one looks at them far away. In terms of language, this poem does not employ overly ornate syntax. Yet through this simple and tranquil language, the poet conveys the spirit of plum blossoms: strong endurance and vibrant life. They are not afraid of cold weather, an analogy for people who do not fear power or authority. This allows the class to understand that the subtext of Chinese poetry often has political implications. Based on students’ discussions, I further explain a possible hidden reading: this poem may also allude to the poet’s own frustrated situation, when his political reform efforts faced resistance and gradually lost the Emperor Shenzong’s (1048–1085) support. However, through such adversity, like the plum blossom in winter, he was determined not to yield.

Cherry Blossom Blow Painting

To make this topic even more lively, I integrate blow painting into the section on plum blossom poetry. The instructor should finish a complete blow painting before class so that students can see what the final product looks like. A simple blow painting requires some basic items, such as paper plates, calligraphy brushes, ink, red paint, and water. Ideally, one should use xuan paper made of different fibers, such as blue sandalwood, rice straw, and mulberry, which is specially designed for painting and calligraphy. However, it is difficult to obtain in the US, so I use paper plates instead. The procedure is simple: first, one puts drops of ink in the middle of the paper plate, blowing the drops slowly and patiently in different directions as the first several blows shape the main stem of the tree. Then, blow a little harder, so the stem becomes thicker. Once the main stem is shaped, one can blow the ink quickly in various directions, which become different branches. One may use a straw to do the blowing to expedite the whole process. After the basic painting is completed, one may use a brush to dip into the red ink and put the petals or flowers around the branches and twigs. This combination of poetry appreciation and blow painting demonstration enables students to understand Chinese culture more vividly and concretely.

Many colleges and universities have some type of traditional Chinese culture courses, whether they be premodern Chinese literature, history, philosophy, or other China-related courses. This article offers personal insight and unique methods of diversifying approaches to teaching Chinese culture effectively. It investigates avenues for bringing traditional Chinese culture to life by demonstrating how to integrate multimedia (such as recent news and films), as well as fine arts (such as blow painting of plum blossoms) into a culture class. These examples and approaches, including discussion questions, are used to explore the current appeal of traditional Chinese culture, which continues to shape Chinese identity and character. In addition, these practices include useful materials for designing extracurricular activities in Chinese clubs, film presentations, or guest lectures. A combination of Chinese culture, multimedia, and hands-on experience in the classroom has proven to increase students’ interest and motivation, as well as broaden their horizons with regards to Chinese civilization and society.

Acknowledgements :

This article is made possible by Valparaiso University’s Research Expense Grant and the East Asian Studies Library Travel Grant of the University of Chicago. I also appreciate useful comments from two anonymous reviewers, EAA Editor Dr. Lucien Ellington, Dr. David Chai, Amanda S. Robb, and James Churchill.

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NOTES 1.”What Did Confucius Say?,” Asia for Educators , accessed February 20, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ycyosqn9.

3. Jeremy Page, “Why China Is Turning Back to Confucius,” Wall Street Journal , September 20, 2015 https://tinyurl.com/ya6fhy37.

4. See “Introduction to Legalism” on the Asia for Educators website at https://tinyurl.com/ya6becmm.

5. For the English translation of this chapter, see Burton Watson, Record of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty II (rev. ed.) (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993) and William H. Nienhauser Jr., The Grand Scribe’s Records: The Memoirs of Pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).

6. For a detailed discussion on the reception of the Jing Ke story, see Yuri Pine, “A Hero Terrorist: Adoration of Jing Ke Revisited,” Asia Major 21, no. 2 (2008): 1–34.

7. Chen Kaige, Fenghuang Wang, “Chen Kaige jiu ‘Jing Ke ci Qinwang’ da jizhe wen,” accessed May 24, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/y726n7ew.

8. A few good scholarly books on this topic are Maggie Bickford, Ink Plum: The Making of a Chinese Scholar-Painting Genre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) and Hans H. Frankel, Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978).

9. For more information on the Chinese quatrain and regulated verse, see Zong-Qi Cai, ed., How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 161–225.

10. The English translation of this poem is adapted from Learning Mandarin Chinese , https://tinyurl.com/ya9jud46l, accessed February 18, 2018. The flowers appearing at the end of this poem may not necessarily refer to plum blossoms, but for the purpose of teaching this topic, instructors may choose to interpret it as plum blossoms.

11. Xiaoshan Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere: Gardens and Objects in Tang-Song Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003), 216. 12. The English translation of this poem follows: Cultural China , accessed February 18, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ya282e6h.

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Pluralism Project Archive

Native american religious and cultural freedom: an introductory essay (2005).

I. No Word for Religion: The Distinctive Contours of Native American Religions

A. Fundamental Diversity We often refer to Native American religion or spirituality in the singular, but there is a fundamental diversity concerning Native American religious traditions. In the United States, there are more than five hundred recognized different tribes , speaking more than two hundred different indigenous languages, party to nearly four hundred different treaties , and courted by missionaries of each branch of Christianity. With traditional ways of life lived on a variety of landscapes, riverscapes, and seascapes, stereotypical images of buffalo-chasing nomads of the Plains cannot suffice to represent the people of Acoma, still raising corn and still occupying their mesa-top pueblo in what only relatively recently has come to be called New Mexico, for more than a thousand years; or the Tlingit people of what is now Southeast Alaska whose world was transformed by Raven, and whose lives revolve around the sea and the salmon. Perhaps it is ironic that it is their shared history of dispossession, colonization, and Christian missions that is most obviously common among different Native peoples. If “Indian” was a misnomer owing to European explorers’ geographical wishful thinking, so too in a sense is “Native American,”a term that elides the differences among peoples of “North America” into an identity apparently shared by none at the time the continents they shared were named for a European explorer. But the labels deployed by explorers and colonizers became an organizing tool for the resistance of the colonized. As distinctive Native people came to see their stock rise and fall together under “Indian Policy,” they resourcefully added that Native or Indian identity, including many of its symbolic and religious emblems, to their own tribal identities. A number of prophets arose with compelling visions through which the sacred called peoples practicing different religions and speaking different languages into new identities at once religious and civil. Prophetic new religious movements, adoption and adaptation of Christian affiliation, and revitalized commitments to tribal specific ceremonial complexes and belief systems alike marked religious responses to colonialism and Christian missions. And religion was at the heart of negotiating these changes. “More than colonialism pushed,” Joel Martin has memorably written, “the sacred pulled Native people into new religious worlds.”(Martin) Despite centuries of hostile and assimilative policies often designed to dismantle the structures of indigenous communities, language, and belief systems, the late twentieth century marked a period of remarkable revitalization and renewal of Native traditions. Built on centuries of resistance as well as strategic accommodations, Native communities from the 1960s on have vigorously pressed their claims to religious self-determination.

B. "Way of Life, not Religion" In all their diversity, people from different Native nations hasten to point out that their respective languages include no word for “religion”, and maintain an emphatic distinction between ways of life in which economy, politics, medicine, art, agriculture, etc., are ideally integrated into a spiritually-informed whole. As Native communities try to continue their traditions in the context of a modern American society that conceives of these as discrete segments of human thought and activity, it has not been easy for Native communities to accomplish this kind of integration. Nor has it been easy to to persuade others of, for example, the spiritual importance of what could be construed as an economic activity, such as fishing or whaling.

C. Oral Tradition and Indigenous Languages Traversing the diversity of Native North American peoples, too, is the primacy of oral tradition. Although a range of writing systems obtained existed prior to contact with Europeans, and although a variety of writing systems emerged from the crucible of that contact, notably the Cherokee syllabary created by Sequoyah and, later, the phonetic transcription of indigenous languages by linguists, Native communities have maintained living traditions with remarkable care through orality. At first glance, from the point of view of a profoundly literate tradition, this might seem little to brag about, but the structure of orality enables a kind of fluidity of continuity and change that has clearly enabled Native traditions to sustain, and even enlarge, themselves in spite of European American efforts to eradicate their languages, cultures, and traditions. In this colonizing context, because oral traditions can function to ensure that knowledge is shared with those deemed worthy of it, orality has proved to be a particular resource to Native elders and their communities, especially with regard to maintaining proper protocols around sacred knowledge. So a commitment to orality can be said to have underwritten artful survival amid the pressures of colonization. It has also rendered Native traditions particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Although Native communities continue to privilege the kinds of knowledge kept in lineages of oral tradition, courts have only haltingly recognized the evidentiary value of oral traditions. Because the communal knowledge of oral traditions is not well served by the protections of intellectual property in western law, corporations and their shareholders have profited from indigenous knowledge, especially ethnobotanical and pharmacological knowledge with few encumbrances or legal contracts. Orality has also rendered Native traditions vulnerable to erosion. Today, in a trend that linguists point out is global, Native American languages in particular are to an alarming degree endangered languages. In danger of being lost are entire ways of perceiving the world, from which we can learn to live more sustainable, balanced, lives in an ecocidal age.

D. "Religious" Regard for the Land In this latter respect of being not only economically land-based but culturally land-oriented, Native religious traditions also demonstrate a consistency across their fundamental diversity. In God is Red ,Vine Deloria, Jr. famously argued that Native religious traditions are oriented fundamentally in space, and thus difficult to understand in religious terms belonging properly tothe time-oriented traditions of Christianity and Judaism. Such a worldview is ensconced in the idioms, if not structures, of many spoken Native languages, but living well on particular landscapes has not come naturally to Native peoples, as romanticized images of noble savages born to move silently through the woods would suggest. For Native peoples, living in balance with particular landscapes has been the fruit of hard work as well as a product of worldview, a matter of ethical living in worlds where non human life has moral standing and disciplined attention to ritual protocol. Still, even though certain places on landscapes have been sacred in the customary sense of being wholly distinct from the profane and its activity, many places sacred to Native peoples have been sources of material as well as spiritual sustenance. As with sacred places, so too with many sacred practices of living on landscapes. In the reckoning of Native peoples, pursuits like harvesting wild rice, spearing fish or hunting certain animals can be at once religious and economic in ways that have been difficult for Western courts to acknowledge. Places and practices have often had both sacred and instrumental value. Thus, certain cultural freedoms are to be seen in the same manner as religious freedoms. And thus, it has not been easy for Native peoples who have no word for “religion” to find comparable protections for religious freedom, and it is to that troubled history we now turn.

II. History of Native American Religious and Cultural Freedom

A. Overview That sacred Native lifeways have only partly corresponded to the modern Western language of “religion,” the free exercise of which is ostensibly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution , has not stopped Native communities from seeking protection of their freedom to exercise and benefit from those lifeways. In the days of treaty making, formally closed by Congress in 1871, and in subsequent years of negotiated agreements, Native communities often stipulated protections of certain places and practices, as did Lakota leaders in the Fort Laramie Treaty when they specifically exempted the Paha Sapa, subsequently called the Black Hills from land cessions, or by Ojibwe leaders in the 1837  treaty, when they expressly retained “usufruct” rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands otherwise ceded to the U.S. in the treaty. But these and other treaty agreements have been honored neither by American citizens nor the United States government. Native communities have struggled to secure their rights and interests within the legal and political system of the United States despite working in an English language and in a legal language that does not easily give voice to Native regard for sacred places, practices, and lifeways. Although certain Native people have appealed to international courts and communities for recourse, much of the material considered in this website concerns Native communities’ efforts in the twentieth and twenty-first century to protect such interests and freedoms within the legal and political universe of the United States.

B. Timeline 1871 End of Treaty Making Congress legislates that no more treaties are to be made with tribes and claims “plenary power” over Indians as wards of U.S. government. 1887-1934 Formal U.S. Indian policy of assimilation dissolves communal property, promotes English only boarding school education, and includes informal and formalized regulation and prohibition of Native American ceremonies. At the same time, concern with “vanishing Indians” and their cultures drives a large scale effort to collect Native material culture for museum preservation and display. 1906 American Antiquities Act Ostensibly protects “national” treasures on public lands from pilfering, but construes Native American artifacts and human remains on federal land as “archeological resources,” federal property useful for science. 1921 Bureau of Indian Affairs Continuing an administrative trajectory begun in the 1880's, the Indian Bureau authorized its field agents to use force and imprisonment to halt religious practices deemed inimical to assimilation. 1923 Bureau of Indian Affairs The federal government tries to promote assimilation by instructing superintendents and Indian agents to supress Native dances, prohibiting some and limiting others to specified times. 1924 Pueblos make appeal for religious freedom protection The Council of All the New Mexico Pueblos appeals to the public for First Amendment protection from Indian policies suppressing ceremonial dances. 1924 Indian Citizenship Act Although uneven policies had recognized certain Indian individuals as citizens, all Native Americans are declared citizens by Congressional legislation. 1928 Meriam Report Declares federal assimilation policy a failure 1934 Indian Reorganization Act Officially reaffirms legality and importance of Native communities’ religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions. 1946 Indian Claims Commission Federal Commission created to put to rest the host of Native treaty land claims against the United States with monetary settlements. 1970 Return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo After a long struggle to win support by President Nixon and Congress, New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo secures the return of a sacred lake, and sets a precedent that threatened many federal lands with similar claims, though regulations are tightened. Taos Pueblo still struggles to safeguard airspace over the lake. 1972 Portions of Mount Adams returned to Yakama Nation Portions of Washington State’s Mount Adams, sacred to the Yakama people, was returned to that tribe by congressional legislation and executive decision. 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act Specifies Native American Church, and other native American religious practices as fitting within religious freedom. Government agencies to take into account adverse impacts on native religious freedom resulting from decisions made, but with no enforcement mechanism, tribes were left with little recourse. 1988 Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association Three Calif. Tribes try to block logging road in federal lands near sacred Mt. Shasta Supreme Court sides w/Lyng, against tribes. Court also finds that AIRFA contains no legal teeth for enforcement. 1990 Employment Division, Department of Human Resources v. Smith Oregon fires two native chemical dependency counselors for Peyote use. They are denied unemployment compensation. They sue. Supreme Court 6-3 sides w/Oregon in a major shift in approach to religious freedom. Scalia, for majority: Laws made that are neutral to religion, even if they result in a burden on religious exercise, are not unconstitutional. Dissent identifies this more precisely as a violation of specific congressional intent to clarify and protect Native American religious freedoms 1990 Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Mandates return of human remains, associated burial items, ceremonial objects, and "cultural patrimony” from museum collections receiving federal money to identifiable source tribes. Requires archeologists to secure approval from tribes before digging. 1990 “Traditional Cultural Properties” Designation created under Historic Preservation Act enables Native communities to seek protection of significant places and landscapes under the National Historic Preservation Act. 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act Concerning Free Exercise Claims, the burden should be upon the government to prove “compelling state interest” in laws 1994 Amendments to A.I.R.F.A Identifies Peyote use as sacramental and protected by U.S., despite state issues (all regs must be made in consultation with reps of traditional Indian religions. 1996 President Clinton's Executive Order (13006/7) on Native American Sacred Sites Clarifies Native American Sacred Sites to be taken seriously by government officials. 1997 City of Bourne v. Flores Supreme Court declares Religious Freedom Restoration Act unconstitutional 2000 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) Protects religious institutions' rights to make full use of their lands and properties "to fulfill their missions." Also designed to protect the rights of inmates to practice religious traditions. RLUIPA has notably been used in a number of hair-length and free-practice cases for Native inmates, a number of which are ongoing (see: Greybuffalo v. Frank).

III. Contemporary Attempts to Seek Protection Against the backdrop, Native concerns of religious and cultural freedoms can be distinguished in at least the following ways.

  • Issues of access to, control over, and integrity of sacred lands
  • Free exercise of religion in public correctional and educational institutions
  • Free Exercise of “religious” and cultural practices prohibited by other realms of law: Controlled Substance Law, Endangered Species Law, Fish and Wildlife Law
  • Repatriation of Human Remains held in museums and scientific institutions
  • Repatriation of Sacred Objects/Cultural Patrimony in museums and scientific institutions
  • Protection of Sacred and Other Cultural Knowledge from exploitation and unilateral appropriation (see Lakota Elder’s declaration).

In their attempts to press claims for religious and cultural self-determination and for the integrity of sacred lands and species, Native communities have identified a number of arenas for seeking protection in the courts, in legislatures, in administrative and regulatory decision-making, and through private market transactions and negotiated agreements. And, although appeals to international law and human rights protocols have had few results, Native communities bring their cases to the court of world opinion as well. It should be noted that Native communities frequently pursue their religious and cultural interests on a number of fronts simultaneously. Because Native traditions do not fit neatly into the category of “religion” as it has come to be demarcated in legal and political languages, their attempts have been various to promote those interests in those languages of power, and sometimes involve difficult strategic decisions that often involve as many costs as benefits. For example, seeking protection of a sacred site through historic preservation regulations does not mean to establish Native American rights over access to and control of sacred places, but it can be appealing in light of the courts’ recently narrowing interpretation of constitutional claims to the free exercise of religion. Even in the relative heyday of constitutional protection of the religious freedom of minority traditions, many Native elders and others were understandably hesitant to relinquish sacred knowledge to the public record in an effort to protect religious and cultural freedoms, much less reduce Native lifeways to the modern Western terms of religion. Vine Deloria, Jr. has argued that given the courts’ decisions in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the Lyng and Smith cases, efforts by Native people to protect religious and cultural interests under the First Amendment did as much harm as good to those interests by fixing them in written documents and subjecting them to public, often hostile, scrutiny.

A. First Amendment Since the 1790s, the First Amendment to the Constitution has held that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The former of the amendment’s two clauses, referred to as the “establishment clause” guards against government sponsorship of particular religious positions. The latter, known as the “free exercise” clause, protects the rights of religious minorites from government interference. But just what these clauses have been understood to mean, and how much they are to be weighed against other rights and protections, such as that of private property, has been the subject of considerable debate in constitutional law over the years. Ironically, apart from matters of church property disposition, it was not until the 1940s that the Supreme Court began to offer its clarification of these constitutional protections. As concerns free exercise jurisprudence, under Chief Justices Warren and Burger in the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court had expanded free exercise protection and its accommodations considerably, though in retrospect too few Native communities were sufficiently organized or capitalized, or perhaps even motivated, given their chastened experience of the narrow possibilities of protection under U.S. law, to press their claims before the courts. Those communities who did pursue such interests experienced first hand the difficulty of trying to squeeze communal Native traditions, construals of sacred land, and practices at once economic and sacred into the conceptual box of religion and an individual’s right to its free exercise. By the time more Native communities pursued their claims under the free exercise clause in the 1980s and 1990s, however, the political and judicial climate around such matters had changed considerably. One can argue it has been no coincidence that the two, arguably three, landmark Supreme Court cases restricting the scope of free exercise protection under the Rehnquist Court were cases involving Native American traditions. This may be because the Court agrees to hear only a fraction of the cases referred to it. In Bowen v. Roy 476 U.S. 693 (1986) , the High Court held against a Native person refusing on religious grounds to a social security number necessary for food stamp eligibility. With even greater consequence for subsequent protections of sacred lands under the constitution, in Lyng v. Northwest Cemetery Protective Association 485 U.S. 439 (1988) , the High Court reversed lower court rulings which had blocked the construction of a timber road through high country sacred to California’s Yurok, Karok and Tolowa communities. In a scathing dissent, Harry Blackmun argued that the majority had fundamentally misunderstood the idioms of Native religions and the centrality of sacred lands. Writing for the majority, though, Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion recognized the sincerity of Native religious claims to sacred lands while devaluing those claims vis a vis other competing goods, especially in this case, the state’s rights to administer “what is, after all, its land.” The decision also codified an interpretation of Congress’s legislative protections in the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act as only advisory in nature. As of course happens in the U.S. judical system, such decisions of the High Court set new precedents that not only shape the decisions of lower courts, but that have a chilling effect on the number of costly suits brought into the system by Native communities. What the Lyng decision began to do with respect to sacred land protection, was finished off with respect to restricting free exercise more broadly in the Rehnquist Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division, State of Oregon v. Smith 484 U.S. 872 (1990) . Despite nearly a century of specific protections of Peyotism, in an unemployment compensation case involving two Oregon substance abuse counselors who had been fired because they had been found to be Peyote ingesting members of the Native American Church , a religious organization founded to secure first amendment protection in the first place, the court found that the state’s right to enforce its controlled substance laws outweighed the free exercise rights of Peyotists. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia’s opinion reframed the entire structure of free exercise jurisprudence, holding as constitutional laws that do not intentionally and expressly deny free exercise rights even if they have the effect of the same. A host of minority religious communities, civil liberties organizations, and liberal Christian groups were alarmed at the precedent set in Smith. A subsequent legislative attempt to override the Supreme Court, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act , passed by Congress and signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton was found unconstitutional in City of Bourne v. Flores (1997) , as the High Court claimed its constitutional primacy as interpreter of the constitution.

i. Sacred Lands In light of the ruling in Lyng v. Northwest Cemetery Protective Association (1988) discussed immediately above, there have been few subsequent attempts to seek comparable protection of sacred lands, whether that be access to, control of, or integrity of sacred places. That said, three cases leading up to the 1988 Supreme Court decision were heard at the level of federal circuit courts of appeal, and are worthy of note for the judicial history of appeals to First Amendment protection for sacred lands. In Sequoyah v. Tennessee Valley Authority , 19800 620 F.2d 1159 (6th Cir. 1980) , the court remained unconvinced by claims that a proposed dam's flooding of non-reservation lands sacred to the Cherokee violate the free excersice clause. That same year, in Badoni v. Higginson , 638 F. 2d 172 (10th Cir. 1980) , a different Circuit Court held against Navajo claims about unconstitutional federal management of water levels at a am desecrating Rainbow Arch in Utah. Three years later, in Fools Crow v. Gullet , 760 F. 2d 856 (8th Cir. 1983), cert. Denied, 464 U.S.977 (1983) , the Eighth Circuit found unconvincing Lakota claims to constitutional protections to a vision quest site against measures involving a South Dakota state park on the site.

ii. Free Exercise Because few policies and laws that have the effect of infringing on Native American religious and cultural freedoms are expressly intended to undermine those freedoms, the High Court’s Smith decision discouraged the number of suits brought forward by Native communities under constitutional free exercise protection since 1990, but a number of noteworthy cases predated the 1990 Smith decision, and a number of subsequent free exercise claims have plied the terrain of free exercise in correctional institutions. Employment Division, State of Oregon v. Smith (1990)

  • Prison:Sweatlodge Case Study
  • Eagle Feathers: U.S. v. Dion
  • Hunting for Ceremonial Purposes: Frank v. Alaska

iii. No Establishment As the history of First Amendment jurisprudence generaly shows (Flowers), free exercise protections bump up against establishment clause jurisprudence that protects the public from government endorsement of particular traditions. Still, it is perhaps ironic that modest protections of religious freedoms of tiny minorities of Native communities have undergone constitutional challenges as violating the establishment clause. At issue is the arguable line between what has been understood in jurisprudence as governmental accommodations enabling the free exercise of minority religions and government endorsement of those traditions. The issue has emerged in a number of challenges to federal administrative policies by the National Park Service and National Forest Service such as the voluntary ban on climbing during the ceremonially significant month of June on what the Lakota and others consider Bear Lodge at Devil’s Tower National Monument . It should be noted that the Mountain States Legal Foundation is funded in part by mining, timbering, and recreational industries with significant money interests in the disposition of federal lands in the west. In light of courts' findings on these Native claims to constitutional protection under the First Amendment, Native communities have taken steps in a number of other strategic directions to secure their religious and cultural freedoms.

B. Treaty Rights In addition to constitutional protections of religious free exercise, 370 distinct treaty agreements signed prior to 1871, and a number of subsequent “agreements” are in play as possible umbrellas of protection of Native American religious and cultural freedoms. In light of the narrowing of free exercise protections in Lyng and Smith , and in light of the Court’s general broadening of treaty right protections in the mid to late twentieth century, treaty rights have been identified as preferable, if not wholly reliable, protections of religious and cultural freedoms. Makah Whaling Mille Lacs Case

C. Intellectual Property Law Native communities have occasionally sought protection of and control over indigenous medicinal, botanical, ceremonial and other kinds of cultural knowledge under legal structures designed to protect intellectual property and trademark. Although some scholars as committed to guarding the public commons of ideas against privatizing corporate interests as they are to working against the exploitation of indigenous knowledge have warned about the consequences of litigation under Western intellectual property standards (Brown), the challenges of such exploitation are many and varied, from concerns about corporate patenting claims to medicinal and agricultural knowledge obtained from Native elders and teachers to protecting sacred species like wild rice from anticipated devastation by genetically modified related plants (see White Earth Land Recovery Project for an example of this protection of wild rice to logos ( Washington Redskins controversy ) and images involving the sacred Zia pueblo sun symbol and Southwest Airlines to challenges to corporate profit-making from derogatory representations of Indians ( Crazy Horse Liquor case ).

D. Other Statutory Law A variety of legislative efforts have had either the express purpose or general effect of providing protections of Native American religious and cultural freedoms. Some, like the Taos Pueblo Blue Lake legislation, initiated protection of sacred lands and practices of particular communities through very specific legislative recourse. Others, like the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act , enacted broad protections of Native American religious and cultural freedom [link to Troost case]. Culminating many years of activism, if not without controversy even in Native communities, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act , signed into law in 1978 and amended in 1993, in order to recognize the often difficult fit between Native traditions and constitutional protections of the freedom of “religion” and ostensibly to safeguard such interests from state interference. Though much heralded for its symbolic value, the act was determined by the courts (most notably in the Lyng decision upon review of the congressional record to be only advisory in nature, lacking a specific “cause for action” that would give it legal teeth. To answer the Supreme Court's narrowing of the scope of free exercise protections in Lyng and in the 1990 Smith decision, Congress passed in 2000 the  Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)  restoring to governments the substantial burden of showing a "compelling interest" in land use decisions or administrative policies that exacted a burden on the free exercise of religion and requiring them to show that they had exhausted other possibilities that would be less burdensome on the free exercise of religion. Two other notable legislative initiatives that have created statutory protections for a range of Native community religious and cultural interests are the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Language Act legislation beginning to recognize the significance and urgency of the protection and promotion of indigenous languages, if not supporting such initiatives with significant appropriations. AIRFA 1978 NAGPRA 1990 [see item h. below] Native American Language Act Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)  2000 National Historic Preservation Act  [see item g below]

E. Administrative and Regulatory Policy and Law As implied in a number of instances above, many governmental decisions affecting Native American religious and cultural freedom occur at the level of regulation and the administrative policy of local, state, and federal governments, and as a consequence are less visible to those not locally or immediately affected.

F. Federal Recognition The United States officially recognizes over 500 distinct Native communities, but there remain numerous Native communities who know clearly who they are but who remain formally unrecognized by the United States, even when they receive recognition by states or localities. In the 1930s, when Congress created the structure of tribal governments under the Indian Reorganization Act, many Native communities, including treaty signatories, chose not to enroll themselves in the recognition process, often because their experience with the United States was characterized more by unwanted intervention than by clear benefits. But the capacity and charge of officially recognized tribal governments grew with the Great Society programs in the 1960s and in particular with an official U.S. policy of Indian self-determination enacted through such laws as the 1975 Indian Self Determination and Education Act , which enabled tribal governments to act as contractors for government educational and social service programs. Decades later, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act formally recognized the authority of recognized tribal governments to engage in casino gaming in cooperation with the states. Currently, Native communities that remain unrecognized are not authorized to benefit from such programs and policies, and as a consequence numerous Native communities have stepped forward to apply for federal recognition in a lengthy, laborious, and highly-charged political process overseen by the  Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Federal Acknowledgment . Some communities, like Michigan’s Little Traverse Band of Odawa have pursued recognition directly through congressional legislation. As it relates to concerns of Native American religious and cultural freedom, more is at stake than the possibility to negotiate with states for the opening of casinos. Federal recognition gives Native communities a kind of legal standing to pursue other interests with more legal and political resources at their disposal. Communities lacking this standing, for example, are not formally included in the considerations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (item H. below).

G. Historic Preservation Because protections under the National Historic Preservation Act have begun to serve as a remedy for protection of lands of religious and cultural significance to Native communities, in light of first amendment jurisprudence since Lyng , it bears further mention here. Native communities seeking protections through Historic Preservation determinations are not expressly protecting Native religious freedom, nor recognizing exclusive access to, or control of sacred places, since the legislation rests on the importance to the American public at large of sites of historic and cultural value, but in light of free exercise jurisprudence since Lyng , historic preservation has offered relatively generous, if not exclusive, protection. The National Historic Preservation Act as such offered protection on the National Register of Historic Places, for the scholarly, especially archeological, value of certain Native sites, but in 1990, a new designation of “traditional cultural properties” enabled Native communities and others to seek historic preservation protections for properties associated “wit cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community’s history, and (b) are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community.” The designation could include most communities, but were implicitly geared to enable communities outside the American mainstream, perhaps especially Native American communities, to seek protection of culturally important and sacred sites without expressly making overt appeals to religious freedom. (King 6) This enabled those seeking recognition on the National Register to skirt a previous regulatory “religious exclusion” that discouraged inclusion of “properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes” by expressly recognizing that Native communities don’t distinguish rigidly between “religion and the rest of culture” (King 260). As a consequence, this venue of cultural resource management has served Native interests in sacred lands better than others, but it remains subject to review and change. Further it does not guarantee protection; it only creates a designation within the arduous process of making application to the National Register of Historic Places. Pilot Knob Nine Mile Canyon

H. Repatriation/Protection of Human Remains, Burial Items, and Sacred Objects Culminating centuries of struggle to protect the integrity of the dead and material items of religious and cultural significance, Native communities witnessed the creation of an important process for protection under the 1990 Native American Graves and Repatriation Act . The act required museums and other institutions in the United States receiving federal monies to share with relevant Native tribes inventories of their collections of Native human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of “cultural patrimony” (that is objects that were acquired from individuals, but which had belonged not to individuals, but entire communities), and to return them on request to lineal descendants or federally recognized tribes (or Native Hawaiian organizations) in those cases where museums can determine cultural affiliation, or as often happens, in the absence of sufficiently detailed museum data, to a tribe that can prove its cultural affiliation. The law also specifies that affiliated tribes own these items if they are discovered in the future on federal or tribal lands. Finally, the law also prohibits almost every sort of trafficking in Native American human remains, burial objects, sacred objects, and items of cultural patrimony. Thus established, the process has given rise to a number of ambiguities. For example, the law’s definition of terms gives rise to some difficulties. For example, “sacred objects” pertain to objects “needed for traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents.” Even if they are needed for the renewal of old ceremonies, there must be present day adherents. (Trope and Echo Hawk, 143). What constitutes “Cultural affiliation” has also given rise to ambiguity and conflict, especially given conflicting worldviews. As has been seen in the case of Kennewick Man the “relationship of shared group identity” determined scientifically by an archeologist may or may not correspond to a Native community’s understanding of its relation to the dead on its land. Even what constitutes a “real” can be at issue, as was seen in the case of Zuni Pueblo’s concern for the return of “replicas” of sacred Ahayu:da figures made by boy scouts. To the Zuni, these contained sacred information that was itself proprietary (Ferguson, Anyon, and Lad, 253). Disputes have arisen, even between different Native communities claiming cultural affiliation, and they are adjudicated through a NAGPRA Review Committee , convened of three representatives from Native communities, three from museum and scientific organizations, and one person appointed from a list jointly submitted by the other six.

I. International Law and Human Rights Agreements At least since 1923, when Haudenosaunee Iroqois leader Deskaneh made an appeal to the League of Nations in Geneva, Native communities and organizations have registered claims and concerns about religious and cultural freedoms with the international community and institutions representing it in a variety of ways. Making reference to their status as sovereign nations whose treaties with the U.S. have not been honored, frustrated with previous efforts to seek remedies under U.S. law, concerned with the capacity for constitutional protection of what are typically “group” and not individual rights, and sometimes spurned by questions about the rightful jurisdiction of the U.S., Native organizations have sought consideration of their claims before the United Nations and engaged in its consultations on indigenous rights. After years of such appeals and efforts, a nearly unanimous  United Nations General Assembly passed the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples The 1996  Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples includes reference [article 12] to the “right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of ceremonial objects,; and the right to the repatriation of human remains.” Importantly, the Declaration does not exclude those communities whose traditions have been interrupted by colonization. Indigenous peoples are recognized as having “the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.” Also specified are their rights to their languages. An offshoot of the American Indian Movement, the International Indian Treaty Council is one such organization that has shifted its attention to the international arena for protections of indigenous rights, including those of religious and cultural freedom.]]

J. Negotiated Agreements and Private Transactions Many if not most Native claims and concerns related to religious and cultural freedoms have been and will continue to be raised and negotiated outside the formal legal and regulatory structures outlined above, and thus will seldom register in public view. In light of the career of Native religious and cultural freedoms in legislative and legal arenas, Vine Deloria, Jr., has suggested the possibilities of such agreements to reach Native goals without subjecting Native communities to the difficulties of governmental interference or public scrutiny of discreet traditions (Deloria 1992a). Still, the possibilities for Native communities to reach acceptable negotiated agreements often owe to the legal and political structures to which they have recourse if negotiations fail. The possibilities of such negotiated agreements also can be shaped by the pressures of public opinion on corporate or governmental interests. Kituwah Mound Valley of the Shields/Weatherman’s Draw

IV. Selected Past Native American Religious and Cultural Freedom Court Cases

A. Land Sequoyah v. Tennessee Valley Authority 620 F. 2d 1159 (6th Cir. 1980) . Dam’s Destruction of Sacred River/Land Badoni v. Higginson 638 F 2d 172 (10th Cir. 1980) . Desecration of Rainbow Arch, Navajo Sacred Spot in Utah Fools Crow v. Gullet 706 F. 2d. 856 (8th Cir. 1983), cert. Denied, 464 U.S. 977 (1983) . State Park on top of Vision Quest site in S. Dakota Wilson v. Block 708F. 2d 735 (D.C. Cir. 1983) ; Hopi Indian Tribe v. Block; Navajo Medicine Men Assn’ v. Block Expansion of Ski Area in San Francisco Peaks, sacred to Navaho and Hopi Lyng v. Northwest Cemetery Protective Association 485 U.S. 439 (1988) Logging Road in lands sacred to Yurok, Karok, and Tolowa

B. Free Exercise Bowen v. Roy 476 U.S. 693 (1986) Native refusal of Social Security Number U.S. v. Dion 476 U.S. 734 Sacramental Eagle Hunt contra Endangered Species Act Frank v. State 604 P. 2d 1068 (Alaska 1979) Taking moose out of season for potlatch *Native American Church v. Navajo Tribal Council 272 F 2d 131 (10th Cir. 1959) Peyotists vs. Tribal Gov’t Prohibiting Peyotism People v. Woody 61 Cal.2d 716, 394 P.2d 813, 40 Cal. Rptr. 69 (1964) Groundbreaking recognition of Free Exercise exemption from State Ban. Employment Division, State of Oregon v. Smith 484 U.S. 872 (1990) Denial of Peyotist’s unemployment compensation held constitutional

C. Prison cases involving hair *Standing Deer v. Carlson 831 F. 2d 1525 (9th Cir. 1987). *Teterud v. Gilman 385 F. Supp. 153 (S. D. Iowa 1974) & New Rider v. Board of Education 480 F. 2d 693 (10th Cir. 1973) , cert. denied 414 U.S. 1097, reh. Denied 415 U.S. 939 *Indian Inmates of Nebraska Penitentiary v. Grammar 649 F. Supp. 1374 (D. Neb. 1986)

D. Human Remains/Repatriation *Wana the Bear v. Community Construction, Inc. 180 Cal Rptr. 423 (Ct. App. 1982). Historic Indian cemetery not a “cemetery.” *State v. Glass 273 N.E. 2d 893 (Ohio Ct. App. 1971). Ancient human remains not “human” for purposes of Ohio grave robbing statute

E. Treaty Rights Pertaining to Traditional/Sacred Practices *U.S. v. Washington 384 F. Supp. 312 (W.D. Wash. 1974) aff’d 520 F.2d 676 (9th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1086 (1976). Boldt Decision on Salmon Fishing *Lac Court Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Voight, 700 F. 2d 341 (7th Cir.) Cert. denied, 464 U.S. 805 (1983) 653 F. Supp. 1420; Fishing/Ricing/Gathering on Ceded Lands Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians 124 F 3d 904 affirmed. (1999) Fishing/Ricing/Gathering on Ceded Lands

V. References & Resources

Brown, Michael, Who Owns Native Culture (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003). Burton, Lloyd Worship and Wilderness: Culture, Religion, and Law in the Management of Public Lands and Resources (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002).

Deloria, Vine, Jr., “Secularism, Civil Religion, and the Religious Freedom of American Indians,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 16:9-20 (1992).

[a] Deloria, Vine, Jr., “Trouble in High Places: Erosion of American Indian Rights to Religious Freedom in the United States,”in The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance , ed. M. Annette Jaimes (Boston: South End Press, 1992).

[b] Echo Hawk, Walter,  In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided ( Fulcrum Publications , 2010) . Fine-Dare, Kathleen, Grave Injustice: The American Indian Repatriation Movement and NAGPRA (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002).

Ferguson, T.J., Roger Anyon, and Edmund J. Ladd, “Repatriation at the Pueblo of Zuni: Diverse Solutions to Complex Problems,” in Repatriation Reader , ed. Devon Mihesuah (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000) pp. 239-265.

Gordon-McCutchan, R.C., The Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Red Crane Books, 1991).

Gulliford, Andrew, Sacred Objets and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2000).

Johnson, Greg, Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007).

King, Thomas F., Places that Count: Traditional Cultural Properties in Cultural Resource Management (Walnut Creek, Calif: Altamira Press, 2003).

Long, Carolyn, Religious Freedom and Indian Rights: The Case of Oregon v. Smith (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2001).

Maroukis, Thomas A., Peyote Road: Religious Freedom and the Native American Church (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010)

Martin, Joel, The Land Looks After Us: A History of Native American Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

McLeod, Christopher (Producer/Director), In Light of Reverence , Sacred Lands Film Project, (Earth Image Films, La Honda Calif. 2000).

McNally, Michael D., "Native American Religious Freedom Beyond the First Amendment," in After Pluralism ed. Courtney Bender and Pamela Klassen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

Mihesuah, Devon A., ed., Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).

Nabokov, Peter, A Forest of Time: American Indian Ways of History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Sullivan, Robert, A Whale Hunt (New York: Scribner, 2000).

Trope, Jack F., and Walter Echo-Hawk, “The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act: Background and Legislative History,” in Repatriation Reader , ed. Devon Mihesuah (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), pp. 123-168.

Wenger, Tisa, We Have a Religion : The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Chinese Culture

Chinese Culture

China is one of the Four Ancient Civilizations (alongside Babylon, India and Egypt), according to Chinese scholar Liang Qichao (1900). It boasts a vast and varied geographic expanse, 3,600 years of written history, as well as a rich and profound culture. Chinese culture is diverse and unique, yet harmoniously blended — an invaluable asset to the world.

Our China culture guide contains information divided into Traditions, Heritage, Arts, Festivals, Language, and Symbols. Topics include Chinese food, World Heritage sites, China's Spring Festival, Kungfu, and Beijing opera.

China's Traditions

China's heritage.

China's national heritage is both tangible and intangible, with natural wonders and historic sites, as well as ethnic songs and festivals included.

As of 2018, 53 noteworthy Chinese sites were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List: 36 Cultural Heritage, 13 Natural Heritage, and 4 Cultural and Natural Heritage .

China's Performing Arts

  • Chinese Kungfu
  • Chinese Folk Dance
  • Chinese Traditional Music
  • Chinese Acrobatics
  • Beijing Opera
  • Chinese Shadow Plays
  • Chinese Puppet Plays
  • Chinese Musical Instruments

Arts and Crafts

  • Chinese Silk
  • Chinese Jade Articles
  • Ancient Chinese Furniture
  • Chinese Knots
  • Chinese Embroidery
  • Chinese Lanterns
  • Chinese Kites
  • Chinese Paper Cutting
  • Chinese Paper Umbrellas
  • Ancient Porcelain
  • Chinese Calligraphy
  • Chinese Painting
  • Chinese Cloisonné
  • Four Treasures of the Study
  • Chinese Seals

China's Festivals

China has several traditional festivals that are celebrated all over the country (in different ways). The most important is Chinese New Year, then Mid-Autumn Festival. China, with its "55 Ethnic Minorities", also has many ethnic festivals. From Tibet to Manchuria to China's tropical south, different tribes celebrate their new year, harvest, and other things, in various ways.

Learning Chinese

Chinese is reckoned to be the most difficult language in the world to learn, but that also must make it the most interesting. It's the world's only remaining pictographic language in common use, with thousands of characters making up the written language. Its pronunciation is generally one syllable per character, in one of five tones. China's rich literary culture includes many pithy sayings and beautiful poems.

Symbols of China

Every nation has its symbols, but what should you think of when it comes to China? You might conjure up images of long coiling dragons, the red flag, pandas, the Great Wall… table tennis, the list goes on…

Top Recommended Chinese Culture Tours

  • China's classic sights
  • A silent night on the Great Wall
  • Relaxing in China's countryside
  • China's past, present, and future
  • The Terracotta Amy coming alive
  • Experience a high-speed train ride
  • Feed a lovely giant panda
  • Explore China's classic sights
  • Relax on a Yangtze River cruise
  • Walk on the the Great Wall.
  • Make a mini warrior with a local family.
  • Pay your respects at the pilgrim's holy palace.

11-Day Tour: Beijing – Xi'an – Guilin/Yangshuo – Shanghai

  • 8-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Shanghai Private Tour
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  • 10-Day Lanzhou–Xiahe–Zhangye–Dunhuang–Turpan–Urumqi Tour
  • 11-Day Classic Wonders
  • 11-Day Family Happiness
  • 12-Day China Silk Road Tour from Xi'an to Kashgar
  • 12-day Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders
  • 12-Day Shanghai, Huangshan, Hangzhou, Guilin and Hong Kong Tour
  • 13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour
  • 14-Day China Natural Wonders Discovery
  • 2-Week Riches of China
  • 3-Week Must-See Places China Tour Including Holy Tibet
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Indian Culture and Tradition Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on indian culture and tradition.

India has a rich culture and that has become our identity. Be it in religion, art, intellectual achievements, or performing arts, it has made us a colorful, rich, and diverse nation. The Indian culture and tradition essay is a guideline to the vibrant cultures and traditions followed in India. 

Indian Culture And Tradition Essay

India was home to many invasions and thus it only added to the present variety. Today, India stands as a powerful and multi-cultured society as it has absorbed many cultures and moved on. People here have followed various religion , traditions, and customs.

Although people are turning modern today, hold on to the moral values and celebrates the festivals according to customs. So, we are still living and learning epic lessons from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Also, people still throng Gurudwaras, temples, churches, and mosques. 

The culture in India is everything from people’s living, rituals, values, beliefs, habits, care, knowledge, etc. Also, India is considered as the oldest civilization where people still follows their old habits of care and humanity.

Additionally, culture is a way through which we behave with others, how softly we react to different things, our understanding of ethics, values, and beliefs.

People from the old generation pass their beliefs and cultures to the upcoming generation. Thus, every child that behaves well with others has already learned about their culture from grandparents and parents.

Also, here we can see culture in everything like fashion , music , dance , social norms, foods, etc. Thus, India is one big melting pot for having behaviors and beliefs which gave birth to different cultures. 

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Indian Culture and Religion

There are many religions that have found their origin in age-old methods that are five thousand years old. Also, it is considered because Hinduism was originated from Vedas.

Thus, all the Hindu scriptures that are considered holy have been scripted in the Sanskrit language. Also, it is believed that Jainism has ancient origin and existence in the Indus valley. Buddhism is the other religion that was originated in the country through the teachings of Gautam Buddha. 

There are many different eras that have come and gone but no era was very powerful to change the influence of the real culture. So, the culture of younger generations is still connected to the older generations. Also, our ethnic culture always teaches us to respect elders, behave well, care for helpless people, and help needy and poor people.

Additionally, there is a great culture in our country that we should always welcome guest like gods. That is why we have a famous saying like ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’. So, the basic roots in our culture are spiritual practices and humanity. 

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Understanding Indigenous Cultures, Traditions and Languages: A Rewarding Journey

09 August 2019

Rays of sunlight hitting mountains in the background; in the forefront, cascades surrounded by a forest and a body of water.

Monkman Cascades and Castle Mountain, Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark

Destination BC/Mike Seehagel

Learning to understand Indigenous cultures, histories and languages can open the door to enriching partnerships and relationships—and respectful engagement.

Indigenous cultures and the protocols that arise from them can vary widely and take some persistence to fully grasp. But as Jenna McQueen discovered, the payoff is well worth the effort.

Jenna McQueen is the Program Coordinator for the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark and a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. Jenna and her colleagues have produced a guide to Best Practices for Indigenous Engagement in UNESCO Global Geoparks .

Jenna was raised by her Dene father and non-Indigenous mother in Tumbler Ridge, BC, away from her family’s traditional lands. Still, over the years, she became acquainted with her cultural roots by listening to stories from her grandmother, Doris McQueen and her father, Don McQueen. Over the last few years, she has been on a more determined journey to learn and understand the hardships faced by Indigenous peoples and how they have worked to protect their languages, history, lands and cultures.

Developing this understanding, says Jenna, has allowed her to be more responsible in her relationships with all Indigenous communities and cultures and build better working relationships with them to contribute to their growth and success.

Culture is key to our being. We learn Indigenous languages, history and traditions through stories and songs that come from our families, Elders and teachers. Indigenous culture is a way of life, so to engage with surrounding Indigenous communities, we have to start with understanding and researching their culture. - Jenna McQueen

Recognizing each community’s unique history, culture and traditions is an important first step to showing respect, she adds. “As our parents always said: ‘You have to give respect to gain respect.’”

Like Jenna, by showing a willingness to learn and respect Indigenous cultures, histories and languages, you can begin to learn the importance of cultural protocols—and in doing so, take the next step toward respectful engagement. Protocols are not just rules—they represent a culture’s deeply held traditions, and can differ significantly from one Indigenous culture or community to another. Navigating and understanding them appropriately can take a lifetime of learning and patience.

“It’s important to feel comfortable enough to ask about protocols and how to pronounce certain words,” says Jenna. “But here’s a little tip: I have yet to meet an elder who wasn’t willing to share their stories, so never feel afraid to ask for help or ask to learn.”

Once you’ve gained the knowledge and respect of your Indigenous neighbours, you can truly start to work in partnership and ensure that everyone involved is able to participate meaningfully. The effort you put into building and maintaining that relationship is just as important as your initial engagement. Reaching out is the first step, but continuously improving that relationship will lay the groundwork for true collaboration.

Jenna notes that due to her Indigenous background, people often assume that engaging with nearby Indigenous communities comes easily to her—but it’s not so.

“I wasn’t raised on my ancestors’ traditional lands,” she says. “I grew up hundreds of miles from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The stories I was fortunate to be told were those from my culture, so they were different from those of the Indigenous cultures that surrounded my home town.”

Today, Jenna is on a path of discovering her Indigenous identity, which hasn’t always been a straightforward process. She says learning about and understanding other cultures, traditions and history can be just as hard for her as it would be for any non-Indigenous person. But the rewards make it all worthwhile.

“Ultimately, the journey I’ve embarked on to engage and work side by side with Indigenous communities has enriched my life. I am humbled by and grateful for any and all opportunities to engage and learn with the Indigenous communities that have traditional ties to the land that I now call home.”

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The Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s offices, located in Ottawa, are on the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial. Read the full statement .

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  • Indian Culture and Tradition Essay


Essay on Indian Culture and Tradition

As students grow older, it is important for them to improve their understanding and hold over the language. This can be done only through consistent reading and writing. Writing an essay is a task that involves cooperation and coordination of both the mind and body. Students must be able to think as well reproduce their thoughts effectively without any confusion. This is important when it comes to writing answers and other important documents as ones go to higher classes. The art of writing effectively and efficiently can be improved by students through writing essays. To help students in this domain, Vedantu provides students with numerous essays. Students can go through the same and learn the correct manner of writing the essay. 

Indian Culture and Tradition

India enjoys a wide variety of cultural and traditional presence amongst the 28 states. Indian origin religions Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are all based on dharma and karma. Even, India is a blessed holy place which is also a native place for most of the religions. Recently, Muslim and Christianity also practised working amongst the whole India population. The pledge also added the line, ‘India is my country, and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.’  

Indians are great with cooking; their spices are special for medicinal purposes, so visitors are difficult to adjust to with such heavy spices. The cricketers touring Indian pitches are out due to such food. Frequently, it's been observed that the sportsperson arrived in India either with cooking skills or with a cook. Spices such as cumin, turmeric and cardamom have been used for a long period, to make the dishes more delicious and nutritional. Wheat, rice and pulses help to complete the meal. The majority of the population is a vegetarian one due to their religious aspects.

Talking about the language, India is blessed with a wide range of languages used. Each state has its own language. A major part of the state is unable to speak other languages than the native one. Gujrathi, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu and many more are the representative languages of the respective state. It's easy to recognize the person with the language he spoke. There are 15 regional languages but almost all of them Hindi is the national language of the country. Sanskrit is considered an ancient and respected language. And most of the legendary holy texts are found in Sanskrit only. Along with these, most of the people are aware of plenty of foreign languages. 

Indian clothing is adorable to most of the foreigners. Woman wearing a sari is the pride of a nation. These create a pleasant effect and she looks so beautiful that a majority of foreign country’s female want to be like her. The origin of the sari is from the temple dancers in ancient times. Sari allows them to maintain modesty and freedom of movement. On the other hand, men traditionally wear a dhoti and kurta. Actually, Dhoti is a type of cloth without any further attached work done on it. The great Mahatma Gandhi was very fond of it and in their dignity, most of the people used to wear the same. 

Apart from all the above facts, Indians are legends with arts and studious material. Shah-rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhirubhai Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan Rajnikant, Sundar Pichai are many more faces of India who are shining and representing India on a global scale. There are 20-30 grand festivals celebrated every year in which every festival pops up with history and respect to the respective religion. Even in terms of business, India is not behind. Agriculture is the best occupation of 70% of people in India. It’s our duty to protect the wonderful culture that we have. 

Indian culture is one of the oldest and most unique cultures known across the globe. It has various kinds of traditional values, religion, dance, festivals, music, and cloth, which varies from each state or town even. Indian art, cuisine, religion, Literature, Education, Heritage, Clothes etc has a huge impact on the whole world where everyone admires and follows it. It is known as the land of cultural diversity.  India thrives on a variety of languages, religions, and cultures due to the diverse race of people living in the country. It can be referred to as one of the world’s most culturally enriched countries. When one thinks of India, they picture colors, smiling faces of children running in the streets, bangle vendors, street food, music, religious festivals etc. 


India is a land where different religious beliefs are followed. It is the land of many religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.  Four Indian religions namely Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism were born in India while others are not of Indian origin but have people following those faiths. The people of India keep a solid belief in religion as they believe that following a faith adds meaning and purpose to their lives as it is the way of life. The religions here are not only confined to beliefs but also include ethics, rituals, ceremonies, life philosophies and many more.


Family plays a vital role in every Indian household. Indians are known to live together as a joint family with their grandparents, uncles and aunts, and the next generation of offspring as well. The house gets passed down from family to family throughout the generations. But with the new modern age, nuclear families are starting to become more common as children go out of town into cities for work or studies and get settled there, also everyone now prefers to have their own private life without any interference. But still, the concept of family get together and family gatherings are not lost as everyone does come together frequently. 

Indian Festivals

India is well known for its traditional festivals all over the world. As it is a secular country with diversity in religions, every month some festival celebration happens. These festivals can be religious, seasonal or are of national importance. Every festival is celebrated uniquely in different ways according to their ritual as each of them has its unique importance. National festivals such as Gandhi Jayanti, Independence Day and Republic Day are celebrated by the people of India across the entire nation. Religious festivals include Diwali, Dussehra, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Zuha, Christmas, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. All the seasonal festivals such as Baisakhi, Onam, Pongal, Bihu etc are celebrated to mark the season of harvest during two harvesting seasons, Rabi and Kharif. 

Festivals bring love, bond, cross-cultural exchange and moments of happiness among people.

Indian cuisine is known for a variety of spicy dishes, curry, rice items, sweets etc. Each cuisine includes a wide range of dishes and cooking techniques as it varies from region to region. Each region of India cooks different types of dishes using different ingredients, also food varies from every festival and culture as well. Hindus eat mostly vegetarian food items such as pulao, vegetables, daal, rajma etc whereas people from Islamic cultural backgrounds eat meat, kebabs, haleem etc. In the southernmost part of India, you will find people use a lot of coconut oil for cooking purposes, they eat a lot of rice items such as Dosa, Idli, Appam etc with Coconut chutney, sambhar.

Indian Clothing is considered to be the epitome of modesty and every style is very different in each region and state. But the two pieces of clothing that represent Indian culture are dhoti for men and saree for women. Women adorn themselves with a lot of bangles and Payal that goes around their ankles. Even clothing styles varied from different religions to regions to cultures. Muslim women preferred to wear salwar kameez whereas Christian women preferred gowns. Men mostly stuck to dhoti, lungi, shalwar and kurta.In modern days, people have changed their sense of style, men and women now wear more modern western clothes. Indian clothes are still valued but are now in more trendy and fashionable styles. 

There is no single language that is spoken all over India; however , Hindi is one common language most Indians know and can speak or understand. Every region has a different language or dialect. As per the official language act, Hindi and English are the official languages in India. Other regions or state wise languages include- Gujarati, Marathi, Bangla, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Kashmiri, Punjabi etc. 


FAQs on Indian Culture and Tradition Essay

1. What are the Popular Spices in India?

Popular spices in India include - Haldi(Turmeric), Chakri Phool(Star Anise), Til (Sesame seeds/ Gingili seeds), Saunf(Fennel Seeds), Kesar(Saffron), Laal Mirch(Red chilli), Khas(Poppy seeds), Jayphal(Nutmeg), Kalonji(Nigella Seeds), Rai/Sarson(Mustard Seeds), Pudina(Mint), Javitri(Mace), Patthar ke Phool​(Kalpasi), Kala Namak/ Sanchal/ Sanchar powder(Black salt/ Himalayan rock salt/ Pink salt), Sonth(Dry ginger powder), Methi dana(Fenugreek seeds), Suva Bhaji/ Sua Saag(Dill)

Kadi Patta(Curry Leaves), Sukha dhania(Coriander seeds), Laung(Cloves), Dalchini(Cinnamon), Sabza(Chia seeds), Chironji(Charoli), Ajwain(Carom seeds, thymol or celery seeds), Elaichi(Cardamom), Kali Mirch(Black Pepper (or White Pepper), Tej Patta(Bay Leaf), Hing(Asafoetida), Anardana(Pomegranate seeds), Amchoor(Dry mango powder)

2. What is the Language Diversity Available in India?

The Indian constitution has 22 officially recognized languages. Apart from it, there are around 60 languages that are recognized as smother tongue with more than one million speakers. India also has around 28 minor languages spoken by over one hundred thousand and one million people. Apart from these, there are numerous dialects spoken by a various sect of people based on their region of origin. 

3. Who are Some of the Most Famous Indian Celebrities Popular Across the Globe? 

India has people excelling in all aspects of art and activities. Few prominent celebrities to garner global fame include - Sudha Murthy, Amitabh Bacchan, Virat Kohli, Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, Priyanka Chopra, MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohanlal, A R Rehman, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Kiran Majumdar Shah, Narendra Modi, Amith Shah. all these people have received great accolades in their respective area of expertise globally and getting recognition to India on a global level. 

4. How to Improve Writing and Reading Skills for Producing Good Essays?

Writing an essay becomes a tedious task when the mind and hand do not coordinate. It is important for you to be able to harness your mental ability to think clearly and reproduce the same on paper for a good essay. Always remember the first few thoughts that you get as soon as you see an essay topic is your best and purest thoughts. Ensure to note them down. Later you can develop your essay around these points. Make sure your essay has an introduction, body and the final conclusion. This will make the reader understand the topic clearly along with your ability to convey the any information without any hesitation or mistake. 

5. How many religions are there in India? 

As of now, there are a total of 9 major religions in India with Hinduism being the majority. The remaining religion includes- Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Baha'i Faith. 

6. Which is the oldest language in India? 

Indian classical oldest language is Sanskrit, it belongs to the Indo- Aryan branch of Indo- European languages. 

7. What are the few famous folk dances of India? 

Folk dances are the representation of a particular culture from where they are known to originate. Eight famous classical dances are- Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu, Kathakali from Kerala, Kathak from North, West and Central India, Mohiniyattam from Kerala, Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh, Odissi from Odisha, Manipuri from Manipur, Sattriya from Assam. 

8. How many languages are spoken in India? 

Other than Hindi and English there are 22 languages recognised by the constitution of India. However, more than 400 languages and dialects in India are still not known as they change after every town. Over the years, about 190 languages have become endangered due to very few surviving speakers. 

9. Describe the Indian Culture. 

Indian culture is very diverse and the people of India are very warm and welcoming. They have a strong sense of family and firmly believe in unity in diversity. In India, there's a saying saying 'Atithi Devo Bhava'  means 'the guest is equivalent to god'. So if one visits India, they will never feel unwanted.


American Culture Essay: Customs and Traditions of the USA

traditional customs essay

All essays on American culture generally explore the customs and traditions of the USA, a country with distinct cultural background encompassing food preferences, language, religious affiliation and much more. American culture would be of great interest to everyone who is fond of learning new things about the world around. Current American culture essay will discuss the most peculiar aspects of the US customs and traditions. The following essay on American culture will deal with such elements of the US culture as language, religion, American style and food, music, sports and some others. The paper will start from providing general background to make it clear to the readers that American culture encompasses various aspects that will be briefly analyzed in the following essay about American culture. Let us discuss the key aspects distinguishing the culture of one of the world’s most developed countries – the United States of America.

  • First, it is important to provide a few general facts about the USA. The United States is known as the third largest state in the world. Since the very beginning, the USA has been home to people with diverse cultural backgrounds. It is known that almost every region in the world has somehow contributed to the American culture, as this country has long been a country of immigrants, since the times when it was colonized by the British. Therefore, US culture has been changed and shaped by such nations as Native Americans, Africans, Asians and Latin Americans. It needs to be noted that America is widely considered a “ melting pot ” where diverse cultures have been interacting with one another and bringing something new to the local culture. Just like the nations across the world have greatly influenced the American culture, nowadays, the US nation influences the cultures of other countries all over the globe. Some immigrants coming to the USA keep some of their traditions and language, but integrate into the American lifestyle in a number of ways. At the same time, lots of immigrants bring something new to the American culture so that it continues to change and evolve.
  • The next issue to be discussed is the language of the USA. According to the American government, the United States has no official language. This is because nearly every language of the world is widely used in the USA, including Spanish, French, German and Chinese. These are some of the most frequently used non-English languages that are widely spread across the USA. 90% of the whole population, however, understands and uses English language, and most of the official businesses are managed in English as well. It is estimated that over 300 languages are commonly used in the USA. These languages are divided into several groups according to their prevalence across the territory of the country. 
  • Another cultural aspect to be discussed is religion. The USA is known to practice almost every world religion, which is explained by the rights of US citizens to choose whatever religion they like. This phenomenon is known as religious freedom. Around 80% of the population identify themselves with Christian religion, while more than 10% of US citizens claim that they do not adhere to any religion at all. It was also found that the second most commonly identified religion in the USA is Judaism with nearly 2% of the population affiliating with it. At the same time, Islamic religion is not that common, with less than 1% of the population identifying themselves as Muslims.
  • As for the American style of clothing, it varies according to the social status of a person, the region he/she lives in, his/her occupation and climatic conditions. Jeans, baseball caps, boots, sneakers and often cowboy headwear are among the pieces of clothing that are most commonly associated with the American style. Such American brands as Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret and Ralph Lauren have long become known all over the world being especially popular in their country of origin. American fashion is largely influenced by the style chosen by celebrities as well as the one reflected in mass media. The fashion sales in America reach nearly $200 billion a year.
  • Another aspect to be analyzed is American food. This aspect raises concern among Europeans and other nations, because American food is known mostly for its unhealthy qualities and the use of genetic modification. Such American foods as hamburgers, potato chips, hot dogs and meat loaf are among the most widely known examples of traditional American meals. Apple pie is also very popular with Americans being an authentic part of the US cuisine. The types of foods vary depending on the region. Southern manner of cooking is commonly known as “ American comfort food ”. It includes such meals as fried chicken, corn bread and greens. The cuisine of Texas has been influenced by the Mexican and Spanish styles of cooking. It ranges from burritos to shredded cheese and chili. It is also common for Americans to eat various snacks such as dried meats and many more.
  • As for such cultural aspect as sports, the United States is widely known as a sports-conscious state. Every region of the USA has thousands of fans who are fond of baseball, football, basketball and many other kinds of sports. It is common to consider that baseball is an inherently American kind of sports. It has been developed during the period of British colonization and has ever since become one of the most favorite pastimes for the American nation. It seems that the popularity of baseball in America will hardly ever wear out. In the USA, baseball is as popular as football in most European countries.
  • Finally, there is a need to discuss the diversity of arts in the United States. The arts culture of the US extends far beyond television shows and movies. This can be proved by the fact that New York is known for being home to Broadway, and the whole American nation has a very distinct theatrical history. The folk art of Americans is revealed in the popularity of hand-made items. As for American music, it encompasses many styles and genres, including jazz, western and country music as well as rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

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Essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions

Students are often asked to write an essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions

Filipino culture: an overview.

Filipino culture is a rich blend of native and foreign influences. This culture shows the country’s history, shaped by Spanish, American, and Asian cultures. The Filipinos are known for their friendly behavior, love for food, and strong family ties.

Language and Communication

Filipinos speak Filipino as their national language. But, they also speak English and other local languages. They are polite and respectful in their communication. They use honorific titles like “po” and “opo” to show respect to elders.

Family and Social Structure

Filipinos value family above all. They have close-knit families, often living with extended relatives. They respect their elders and follow a hierarchical social structure. This structure is noticeable in their family and social gatherings.

Food and Feasts

Filipino cuisine is a mix of different cultures. Their food includes rice, meat, and vegetables. They love to celebrate with food. They have a special feast called “fiesta” where they cook and share food with everyone.

Festivals and Celebrations

Filipinos are known for their colorful festivals. They celebrate these festivals with music, dance, and parades. Some famous festivals include Ati-Atihan, Sinulog, and Pahiyas. These festivals show their rich culture and traditions.

Religion and Beliefs

Most Filipinos are Christians, with a majority being Catholic. Their faith influences their daily life and celebrations. They have many religious festivals. They also believe in superstitions and folklore.

Arts and Crafts

Filipinos are skilled in various arts and crafts. They make beautiful handicrafts like woven mats and baskets. They also have traditional dances and music. These arts and crafts show their creativity and talent.

Each part of Filipino culture is unique and fascinating. It reflects their history, values, and the warmth of the Filipino people.

250 Words Essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions

Filipino culture and traditions.

Filipino culture is a mix of many great influences from its history. It is a blend of the country’s past and present, creating a rich and unique culture.

Family Values

In the Philippines, family is the heart of society. Filipinos hold a strong bond with their families. They respect their elders and care for them. They also celebrate big family gatherings with joy and love.

Filipinos love to celebrate. They have many colorful and lively festivals. Each region has its own festival. They celebrate these with music, dance, and food. The most famous one is the “Sinulog Festival”. It is a bright and joyful event.

Filipino food is a mix of flavors. Rice is a staple food. They also love meat, fish, and vegetables. Their food is known for its bold taste. The most popular dish is “Adobo”. It is a tasty mix of meat, vinegar, and soy sauce.

Filipinos are known for their arts and crafts. They make beautiful hand-woven fabrics and baskets. They also create amazing wood carvings. These crafts show the skill and creativity of the Filipinos.

To sum up, Filipino culture is rich and diverse. It values family, celebrates life, enjoys good food, and appreciates art. It is a culture that truly reflects the spirit of the Filipino people.

500 Words Essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions

Introduction to filipino culture.

Filipino culture is a beautiful mix of different influences from its history. Just like a colorful woven fabric, it is a blend of indigenous traditions and foreign influences from Spain, America, and other Asian countries. This rich culture is reflected in their food, language, art, and everyday life.

Language and Literature

In the Philippines, language is a big part of their culture. The country has over 170 languages, but Filipino and English are the official ones. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. Many Filipinos also speak English, making the country one of the largest English-speaking nations. Filipino literature is rich with myths, folk tales, and epic stories that have been passed down through generations.

Food and Festivals

Food plays a central role in Filipino culture. Each region has its own special dish. The most famous is “Adobo”, a dish made from vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and meat. Another popular dish is “Lechon”, a whole roasted pig served during big celebrations. Speaking of celebrations, Filipinos love festivals. Each town has at least one local festival, known as “fiesta”, which usually involves a feast, parades, and dancing.

Filipinos are also known for their arts and crafts. They have a traditional dance called “Tinikling”, which involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground while others step over them in a dance. In crafts, Filipinos are experts in weaving, pottery, and carving. They use local materials like bamboo, rattan, and shells to create beautiful items.

Values and Beliefs

Filipinos are known for their strong family ties. They value respect for elders, which is shown by the “Mano Po” gesture where younger people touch the hand of their elders to their forehead. They also believe in “Bayanihan”, a spirit of communal unity and cooperation. Filipinos are also deeply religious, with a majority of them being Catholic.

Filipino culture is a beautiful blend of different influences. It is a culture that values respect, unity, and a love for celebrations. It’s a culture that is rich in tradition, from its language and literature, food and festivals, to its arts and crafts. Despite the many changes over the years, the heart of Filipino culture remains the same – its warm, welcoming, and resilient spirit.

This essay just gives a brief overview of the rich Filipino culture and traditions. There are still many other aspects to explore and understand. After all, culture is deep, diverse, and ever-evolving. The beauty of Filipino culture is a testament to their history, their values, and their spirit.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Filipino Christmas
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Traditional Beliefs and Values Essay

Culture can be defined as a set of shared beliefs, attitudes, values, objectives, and practices that constitutes an organization, an institution, or a group (Rojek, 2007). Norms, beliefs and values vary in diverse ways across different cultures; all cultures are driven by certain principles that propose a certain direction depending with the situations (Rojek, 2007).

The set principles are what are referred as norms; norms are general guidelines that direct our actions in a given situation including our ways of dressing. Then again, values are principle that provides us with a set of conduct and guides us how to behave.

A value is a belief which provides a guide that something is good or bad; a belief is a general notion which is strictly adhered to since it is known to be right. Religion is one the commonly pronounced beliefs (Rojek, 2007).

This paper will examine how beliefs and values vary across different cultures. It will also discuss the several beliefs that exist in different social institutions and how they are part of the system.

Most of our commonly held cultural values and beliefs differ and they manifest at different periods of development in any given culture; they are usually displayed during time of birth, marriage and death (Kendall and Wickham, 2001). For instance, customs and beliefs surrounding childbirth are aimed at welcoming and protecting a new born in the family.

However, such customs vary widely across cultures. A Christian believer may opt to have the new baby christened through prayers; a Hindu believer would make some writings on the tongue as a ritual, while a Muslim believer might choose to make prayers to the creator which is then marked by a charm that is put round the child’s neck (Aiken, 2001).

The same case applies when it comes to naming the child. Some cultures may name their child based on religious believes, season which the child was born, and social status. Some communities also do not refer their children by their name which is kept as a Secrete among the members; instead they refer an individual by nicknames and so on.

Different cultures have very different belief and judgment in regard to death. In the African setting, death is viewed as an avenue to join the ancestral world. According to the African culture, when an individual dies, he/she joins the ancestors; the ancestors are believed to play a vital role in protecting the humanity.

In fact, most African communities makes offering and prayers to the ancestors to appease them especially when they are faced by unusually phenomenon such as drought, diseases, and war among other problems. Unlike the African, the Hindu believes that when an individual dies he/she will reincarnate in a new form (Tejomayananada, 2000).

According to the Hindu believes, if a good person dies, he will reincarnate in a form of an animal that is liked by the community such as rabbit. However, if a wicked person dies, he will appear back in form of an animal that is not liked such as hyena (Tejomayananada, 2000).

Furthermore, marriage is an institution that is very basic and a necessity for the growth of any community; it is well developed among all cultures around the world. However, it is one of the traditions where we have great difference in terms of cultural values and believes.

In Africa cultures, marriage is an institution that serves to unite different group of people and it is highly regarded as an instrument of peace (Aiken, 2001). Most African who still uphold their cultural values today usually marry with an aim of making families ties strong, solving a conflict between two families, or as a symbol of harmony.

For these reasons, an African woman has no decision on who to marry, the decision is made by her parents and elders, however, this notion is not common among educated African due to influence of the western culture.

In Hindu culture, marriage is strictly performed within a given social order based on ones social status. People in the lower caste can not marry people from the upper caste and vice-verse (Tejomayananada, 2000). Marriage in this community is meant to maintain and strengthen ones social status.

On the other hand, people from the western countries marry out of love. Marriage is held by ties of love which drives individuals to marry and no one is restricted on who to marry. This culture is spreading across the world and most people are embracing it positively.

In summary, it is evident that traditional believes and values vary across cultures. For those communities that are deeply held to their cultural values, any member of the community who does not adhere to the set customs is discriminated and considered to be an outcast.

However, with the emergence of civilization, education and information technology, the world has become a global village and the western culture has suppressed most of the traditional cultural values due to the perception that, western culture is a superior culture (Kendall and Wickham, 2001).

Today most people are embracing the western culture. On the other hand, there are some aspects that have not changed overtime and they are signs of cultural values among different communities.

Aiken, L. R. (2001). Dying, death, and bereavement . London: Routledge publisher.

Kendall, G., & Wickham, G. (2001). Understanding Culture : Cultural Studies, order. Ordering. : Newcastle: Sage.

Rojek, C. (2007). Cultural Studies . Cambridge: Polity press.

Tejomayananada,S. (2000). Hindu Culture . Bridgetown: Chinmaya Mission.

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traditional customs essay

Essay on Culture and Tradition

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Explore the cultural and traditional values of different societies, and how they shape our understanding of the world. Learn how culture and tradition can have an impact on our daily lives, beliefs, and values.

Culture and tradition are important parts of our lives. They are the things that make us who we are and help us to understand the world around us. Culture is the knowledge, beliefs, and customs shared by a group of people. It can include language, religion, food, clothing, music, art, and much more. These things can change over time, but they are passed down from generations to generations. Traditions are activities or customs that are passed down from older generations. These traditions can be as simple as celebrating a holiday or as complex as a cultural practice. They are important because they give us a sense of identity and help us to connect with our past. Culture and tradition are important because they give us a shared identity and help us to understand the world around us. They can also be a source of comfort, as well as a way for us to express our creativity. By understanding and respecting other cultures, we can learn to appreciate their differences and find commonalities among us. All in all, culture and tradition are very important and should be respected and celebrated. They are the things that make us who we are and help us to understand the world around us.

FAQs Related to Essay on Culture and Tradition

1. what is the definition of culture and tradition.

Culture and tradition are terms that often go hand in hand, but they have different definitions. Culture is defined as the shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts of a particular group or society. Tradition, on the other hand, refers to a practice or belief that is passed down through generations and is often seen as a part of a culture.

2. What are some examples of culture and tradition?

Culture and tradition are an integral part of any society. They give a sense of identity to individuals and help to define a particular group or community. Examples of culture and tradition include religious celebrations, language, arts and crafts, music and dance, cuisine, and social customs and rituals. In some cultures, there may also be special ceremonies and rites of passage, such as weddings and funerals.

3. What is the relationship between culture and language?

The relationship between culture and language is complex and interconnected. Language is a form of expression, and culture is a form of identity. Language is strongly linked to culture, as it is a reflection of how people communicate with one another and express their ideas within a society. Culture creates and shapes language, as it contains the values, beliefs, and norms of a group of people. Therefore, culture and language are inextricably linked, as they both influence and shape each other.

4. What is the importance of preserving culture and tradition?

Preserving culture and tradition is important for many reasons. It gives us a sense of identity and helps to preserve our shared history. It also helps to keep our communities connected, as many of our celebrations, customs, and festivals are rooted in our cultural heritage.

5. What can people do to maintain their culture and traditions?

People can maintain their culture and traditions by engaging in activities such as celebrating traditional holidays, teaching their children about the history and values of their heritage, participating in cultural events, and sharing traditional stories and customs with others. They can also preserve artifacts, photographs, and other items that are important to their culture, and learn to speak the language of their ancestors.

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  • by Vasu Borisa
  • August 21, 2023 January 20, 2024

Website Navigation: Home / Resources / IELTS Writing Task 2 (Essay)


You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. write about the following topic:, many customs and traditional ways of behaviour are no longer relevant to the modern life and not worth keeping. do you agree or disagree.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

The vibrancy of modern life has led to debates about the relevance of traditional customs and behaviors. I completely agree with the notion, as technological progress, evolving values, and shifting social dynamics make several traditional practices obsolete.

Firstly, technological advancements have drastically reduced the relevance of many traditional customs. to brief, the emergence of digital communication technologies has reshaped how people connect and interact, rendering certain traditional customs of face-to-face interactions redundant. sending physical letters or waiting for in-person meetings, for instance, can now be replaced by instantneous digital communication. additionally, the demands of contemporary work and urban lifestyles often clash with time-intensive rituals, diminishing the feasibility of adhering to traditional routines. extended family gatherings, while culturally significant, may conflict with work commitments and disrupt contemporary lifestyles., furthermore, gender roles and family structures have evolved, making certain customs related to marriage and family arrangements less relevant. to brief, practices once customary, like arranged marriages solely based on parental consent, may no longer align with individuals’ desires for autonomy and compatability. moreover, globalization and multiculturalism’s influence on increased diversity and the coexistence of various traditions have highlighted how outdated customs can hinder social cohesion by marginalizing certain groups or fostering exclusion. for example, inflexible cultural norms may alienate individuals from diverse backgrounds, impeding the achievement of a harmonious and inclusive society., in conclusion, i firmly concur that the pace of modernization, evolution of values, and the transformation of societal dynamics demand a critical assessment of the pertinence of customary practices and conduct in today’s world., join the conversation cancel reply.

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    Chinese culture is diverse and unique, yet harmoniously blended — an invaluable asset to the world. Our China culture guide contains information divided into Traditions, Heritage, Arts, Festivals, Language, and Symbols. Topics include Chinese food, World Heritage sites, China's Spring Festival, Kungfu, and Beijing opera. Chinese New Year.

  11. Indian Culture and Tradition Essay for Students

    500+ Words Essay on Indian Culture and Tradition. India has a rich culture and that has become our identity. Be it in religion, art, intellectual achievements, or performing arts, it has made us a colorful, rich, and diverse nation. The Indian culture and tradition essay is a guideline to the vibrant cultures and traditions followed in India.

  12. Understanding Indigenous Cultures, Traditions and Languages: A

    Indigenous culture is a way of life, so to engage with surrounding Indigenous communities, we have to start with understanding and researching their culture. - Jenna McQueen. Recognizing each community's unique history, culture and traditions is an important first step to showing respect, she adds. "As our parents always said: 'You have ...

  13. Indian Culture and Tradition Essay for Students in English

    Indian Culture and Tradition. India enjoys a wide variety of cultural and traditional presence amongst the 28 states. Indian origin religions Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are all based on dharma and karma. Even, India is a blessed holy place which is also a native place for most of the religions. Recently, Muslim and Christianity also ...

  14. American Culture Essay: Customs and Traditions of the USA

    Current American culture essay will discuss the most peculiar aspects of the US customs and traditions. The following essay on American culture will deal with such elements of the US culture as language, religion, American style and food, music, sports and some others. The paper will start from providing general background to make it clear to ...

  15. Indian Culture and Tradition Essay

    The Indian Culture and Traditions Essay elaborated on the variety of traditions and cultures followed by people in India. India is a country of having many cultures, traditions, and religions that made people living in a peaceful, colorful, rich, and diverse nation. It is unbelievable that different directions of India like north, south, east ...

  16. Advantages And Disadvantages Of Traditional Culture

    Any culture is a system of learn and shared meanings. People learn and share things over the course of generation, and so we say they are a culture. Traditional and modern culture functioned similarly because both are ways of thinking, ways of relating to people and to the universe. Therefore we believe disappearance of traditional culture due ...

  17. IELTS Writing Task 2: traditions and technology

    This essay will discuss how technology affects a culture in a bad way. Firstly, media has played an integral part in damaging the cultures of the world. Advancements in the field of telecommunication have turned the world into a global village. ... Basically, protecting traditional culture bases on the education system country without known ...

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    500 Words Essay on Filipino Culture And Traditions Introduction to Filipino Culture. Filipino culture is a beautiful mix of different influences from its history. Just like a colorful woven fabric, it is a blend of indigenous traditions and foreign influences from Spain, America, and other Asian countries. This rich culture is reflected in ...

  19. Traditional beliefs and values

    Traditional Beliefs and Values Essay. Culture can be defined as a set of shared beliefs, attitudes, values, objectives, and practices that constitutes an organization, an institution, or a group (Rojek, 2007). Norms, beliefs and values vary in diverse ways across different cultures; all cultures are driven by certain principles that propose a ...

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    Culture and tradition are important parts of our lives. They are the things that make us who we are and help us to understand the world around us. Culture is the knowledge, beliefs, and customs shared by a group of people. It can include language, religion, food, clothing, music, art, and much more. These things can change over time, but they ...


    Firstly, technological advancements have drastically reduced the relevance of many traditional customs. To brief, the emergence of digital communication technologies has reshaped how people connect and interact, rendering certain traditional customs of face-to-face interactions redundant. Sending physical letters or waiting for in-person ...

  22. Traditional Culture In Malaysia Essay

    Traditional Culture In Malaysia Essay. Culture is the way of life, customs, beliefs and behavior of society. Malaysia as known as multi-racial country consisiting of Malay, Chinese, Indian and another race. Every race has their own traditional cultures which is passed by their ancestors. In general, there are fourth types of traditional culture ...

  23. Tradition Essay

    3. This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples. Cite This Essay. Download. In this essay I am going to discuss tradition and what the word traditional means. Tradition is very individual, that is to say, everybody interprets their own tradition ...