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Culture Essay

1266 words - 6 pages

Culture is a shared set of values and norms between certain groups of people. These values and norms are unconsciously presented in the interactions and communications of the cultural group, which they do on a daily basis. Therefore, the behavior of people on different occasions would reflect their culture in a way or the other. I had the fortunate experience of attending a Thanksgiving lunch with a few American friends of mine last year. It turned out to be a warm and culturally rich experience, which showed a great vision about the cultural values and norms of the Americans, and how they celebrate the occasion of Thanksgiving.
The primary purpose of Thanksgiving Day is to unite together, ...view middle of the document...

I felt quite at home with the atmosphere, and enjoyed myself through the event. The experience proved to be fulfilling and gave me a peak to a new culture, and taught me many things about hospitality, celebrations and other norms and values significant to the American culture.
Every culture has some different patterns of behavior and characters of observing and understanding symbols, which heave upon the actions of its people. As a notable scholar Robert J. House remarks, “When cultures come in contact, they may converge in some aspects, but their idiosyncrasies will likely amplify” (as cited in Bhagat & Steers, 2009). The occasion of Thanksgiving has religious, historical and cultural origins, and is celebrated in many parts of the world in the same spirit of celebration. A hearty, large meal is prepared and close friends or relatives are invited to share the celebrations with. The general mood and behaviors during Thanksgiving Day is similar to the celebratory occasions in other cultures, as they may all be celebrated with family and friends by sharing meals and celebrations. However, the food items selected for Thanksgiving meals, such as baked or roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and other fall vegetables are different in their nature. Also, a prayer of appreciation is said before the meal, thanking God for the bounties and blessings of the previous year, which is a unique symbol of the occasion of Thanksgiving.
While spending the afternoon with my American friends I observed a cultural occasion, I noticed a specific thing in their behaviors and worldviews, which was a crucial effect of the American culture. Kenneth Funk, an Associate Professor at Oregon State University, refers to worldview as “the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influence all one's perceiving, thinking, knowing and doing” (Funk, 2011). It is a general view shared by the people about a particular uncommon experience, which has been fixed for these people, and through which they seek and understand the world around them. American culture is usually believed to be centered on individualism, “a worldview that centralizes the personal goals, personal uniqueness, and personal control--and peripheralizes the social” (Bryant, 2003). They believe in achieving self-identity through an individual accomplishment, individual goals, freedom and personal responsibility. However, their style of celebrating Thanksgiving, and other cultural and religious events, is similar to the collectivist worldview, where “the groups bind and mutually obligate individuals” (Bryant, 2003). They consider it a cultural duty to gather around with their families and close friends to prepare a specific food menu and enjoy the celebrations every year. By doing this, they...

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