From artifacts and architecture to books, stories, songs, and folklore, cultural heritage contains the traits, attributes, and items that are handed down to, and preserved for, future generations. Many types of heritage grow into symbols that represent your family and the traditions of your lineage. Dive into what cultural heritage is and the traditions and symbols associated with different cultures.
The Meaning of Cultural Heritage
Heritage is more than just who your first and second cousins are or where your last name came from. It has a multifaceted and diverse meaning that many times helps clarify who you are as a person. It can define your traditions, values, culture, and more.
Family traditions aren't one-size-fits-all. They're as diverse as the people who celebrate them. While your family might have unique traditions that are specific to them, there are also cultural traditions that you might celebrate together. For example, German family traditions can vary from Greek family traditions in how they spend important days, what foods they eat, and even what dances and games they choose to partake in. In Scottish tradition, Halloween trick-or-treating is called "guising," as in disguising. This differs from how other countries and their inhabitants celebrate Halloween.
Birthday traditions can also be different depending on your family or what part of the world you are from. The people of Spain celebrate their birthdays with their loved ones, and pay for their guests to join them for a day of fun. People of the Jewish faith have a more reserved take on birthdays, and Koreans celebrate birthdays on the country's New Year. Every culture in the world has its own way of celebrating various aspects of life.
Your culture is a big aspect of your traditions. Depending on your culture, you might commemorate different holidays or celebrate in a fashion that's distinct from other cultures. It isn't just holidays, either. The way you act, your family bonds, and even marriage rituals are defined by your culture. For example, Filipino cultural traditions favor close-knit family bonds and long engagements. Mexican culture is typically full of large extended families with a strong Catholic influence that affects their traditions. While in Japanese culture, formalities are very important.
Birthdays and holidays are not the only gatherings that reflect culture and heritage. When a person passes, different cultures honor their loved ones in various ways that reflect their beliefs. The Irish people hold wakes to honor their dead, and incorporate specific traditions into these emotional ceremonies. The Japanese view death differently, and they honor their passed loved ones in a way that reflects their culture's beliefs. The way people say goodbye to their dearly departed varies greatly, but each ceremony is full of beauty, love, and respect.
Your heritage is all about your family. And your family values really mold your individual thinking. While every family has its own unique set of values specific to their personal beliefs and attitudes, different groups of people tend to create value systems related to their culture. Haitian family values define family roles very specifically. Greek family values place importance on large family celebrations. You can even learn about the cultural significance of the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan. Where people come from heavily influences their personal family values.
Several cultures have symbols that relate to their culture and heritage. Certain Chinese symbols represent family, and these symbols have been around for thousands of years. Native American symbols represent familial relationships which are also embedded into their lifestyle. Different Celtic symbols represent the heritage of that culture. Families in Ireland might have a family crest or use a Celtic cross to represent certain cultural beliefs. These symbols are vastly different from one another, but they all have a commonality of deep meanings rooted in tradition.
Learn About Culture and Heritage
Learning more about various cultures, how they function, celebrate, and take pride in their heritage can be exciting. Try working new aspects of culture from around the world into your own family framework. You can dive deeper into your own heritage, honoring your ancestry, while also embracing the attitudes, beliefs, and traditions of other cultures that you idealize. Traditions and symbols may vary throughout the world, but they all have meaning and importance to the people who honor them. Choose to use the cultural aspects that speak to you and have the ability to enhance your life.