The Pacific Index

Beliefs & Behaviors

Traditions and their symbolic meaning continue to serve an an important facet in modern society

Alesandra Govi

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Traditions include beliefs and behaviors that have been passed down for generations which have a symbolic meaning within society, who  continue to follow or believe over a period of time.

Every culture has their own traditions which include celebrations, how and when to celebrate determined events, food habits, music, marriage, how to eat and dress, and so much more.

The United States is known to have a great mix of people who have brought their own traditions in  that are now part of the American heritage. Additionally every region in the US has their own traditions. For example, there are different religions being practiced, the food habits change from state to state, such as fried chicken being a traditional food of the south and clam chowder along the east coast.

As I was born in Italy and grew up around Italian traditions and am now currently studying abroad in Spain, I am starting to realize the real value  of every country’s traditions.

For example in Italy when eating, we are accustomed to sit at the table with our families and talk, share events from the day, and eat all together. We value this time spent with each other. As in most families this is all the time we get due to work, school and other activities in our lives.

In fact, sometimes meals can last many hours. On the other hand, the majority of people in the US don’t share this moment of the day. It was a cultural shock when I first arrived seeing how many people eat in their own room, in front of the tv or just alone even if all of the members of the family are present in the house.

However, there is a tradition which I love in the US, which are marriages. The bride and the groom being able to pick their best friends as bridesmaids and groomsmen who seal the marriage with them and witness the whole event, the reception, and the dancing and singing that goes on for many hours.

In Italy, on the other hand, marriage is important but the bride and the groom get to pick only one person to be by their side who will sign as a witness of the event at the end of the ceremony. After the ceremony usually follows a dinner but dancing is not as typical since we prioritize food!

These are just some examples of different and important traditions, but if you start paying attention when visiting places and not living them as a tourist but more so as a local, you’ll be able to identify those little differences yourself.

Spain traditions are, in fact, similar to italian traditions, yet they are different in their own way. For Example, the United States, Italy and Spain celebrate Easter, but all of these different countries have their own traditions.

The US doesn’t have a big celebration for this holiday and often times families get together but there is no specific tradition. Italy, however, uses it as another time to get together and eat more, while celebrating with easter chocolate eggs. In Spain there is the so called “Semana Santa” with parades of people dressed as holy figures enjoying special food.

The Corrida de Toros, also known as the bull fights, is another important tradition of Spain. This tradition was introduced in the XII century, where there is a tamer either on a horse or just on the field, dressed with typical colors and adornations of the region.

There is the matador, otherwise known as the bullfighter, who is in charge of the fight. He performs artistic passes with a scarlet cloth bringing the bull against the picador, the horse trainer who will slowly kill the bull through the use of a stick. This brutal tradition is still nowadays practiced around Spain, in fact, during Carnival it is possible to attend events in the northern central area, for example in the Ciudad de Rodrigo.

Traditions are very important. Some traditions are newer than others, while some have been integrated many years ago and are now part of our culture. They shape who we are, they give us a feeling of belonging to certain groups of people, and they guide our journey in life..

I am sure we all have traditions which we grew up with and feel like they are a part of us. So I say, keep up those traditions, pass them down from generation to generation, and never forget that those are what made you and your beliefs, and that one day you’ll have your own traditions as well.

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