Research Paper on Comparison between the Greek and the American Cultures:
Culture is a broad yet very important aspect of the society and without it no community or group can claim to have any form of identity. Culture can be viewed from a variety of angles each interrelated to the other. It mainly comprises the aspects of religion, business and economic activities, duty towards others, food, dress code, language, music and dance, etiquette, entertainment, and family values among others. These aspects collectively define a group. The speech aims at providing a clear description of some aspects of the Greek culture and providing vivid comparison between the Greek and the American culture (Adams and Strother-Adams 23). Elements which are used to achieve his include the aspects of weddings, clothing and gift giving.
Greek weddings basically commenced when darkness struck. Chariot being the main form of transport carried the bride who at the time stood on the chariot. The girl would set on the journey from her family home to her future husband’s home wearing a veil. Behind the chariot would be the bride’s family who trekked and carried gifts to the groom’s home. Since it would be dark, the acquaintances of both the bride and the groom would provide lighting ahead of the chariots (Adams and Strother-Adams 18). Similarly, their friends would use torches to provide the light. Since they believed darkness encouraged evil spirits, the friend while leading the way played some music in a bid to scare the supposed spirits.
During the actual ceremony, a fruit, more so an apple would be provided to the bride to symbolize the aspect of provision on the part of the husband. This would indicate the husband’s responsibility and ability to provide for the wife’s basic needs from the wedding day onwards. The new couple would be offered wedding gifts which would range from jewelry, furniture and perfumes among other needs. The courtyard close to the grooms’ home served to provide the reception where the guest and family members would share and enjoy the celebratory meal
Weddings and marriage in the United States are conducted in line with various marriage laws within America. Each state has its own set of guidelines regarding marriage and wedding although most of these guidelines are widespread throughout the United States. Weddings are not at all compulsory in America as people are able to stay together even without formalizing a marriage and thus domestic partnerships and civil marriages are common.
Most marriages in America are conducted the western style and are officiated by pastors and priests depending on the denomination of the partners. Weddings involving the whites are the most common function either performed within a church or outdoors. Secular weddings are also common in America and are mainly presided over by an official from the municipal council, a judge or a justice. America is a permissive society and with their advocacy for human rights, the constitution permits same sex marriages (Curry and Sibylla 45). The society has thus witnessed quite a number of gay and lesbian weddings in the United States.
A characteristic wedding in America involves the groom and the bride making vows as guided by the priest or the pastor in a church. The bride is usually escorted by the father or close family members to the groom who waits for her at the altar. The Christian wedding however isn’t the only religions kind of wedding witnessed in America. The continent comprises a number of religions, each conducting their weddings as per their religious cultures. These religious groups include the Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.
Most weddings are attended by large groups and family members save for some occasions where high profile members, owing to the need of private, make the event a private one. In such a case the guests would normally be close family members and friends. Despite these ceremonies, a considerable number of American weddings end in divorce with close to 90% of the cases ending up in court.
The Greeks follow a dress code that is quite simple and depending on the weather conditions, the inhabitants dress in wool or linen. Wool is worn during the winter season and linen in summer. Anciently, most Greek families sew their own clothes at home as purchasing garments was quite costly (Curry and Sibylla 56). The wealthy however, managed to afford the readymade clothes from the markets. The readymade clothes were made by professional seamstresses and were therefore very classy.
The female members of the families were responsible for making garment for the rest of the family. This included the slaves, the daughters and their mothers. Garments would be decorated depending on the state or city that a family resided. Because of the adoration that the Greek treated their towns with, they made decorations that represented them.
Jewelry among the Greek are important asset and so they frequently bought them to adorn themselves. It is however the rich that mostly owned jewels as they could manage the costly price that the peddlers provided in exchange for the ornaments. They also made their own perfumes which contained boiled extracts from flowers and herbs. When travelling, the Greek mostly wore hats famously known as the ‘petasos’. Hairbrushes were used by both genders and women maintained long and braided hairs.
The American attire basically follows the western culture and comprises a variety of garments. Both men and women put on pants, and shirts and sometimes blazers. Women put on dresses and skirts too. Dressing is mainly done according to the occasion or the environment. In offices people mainly dress official for instance in suits. Swim suits and beach wear are worn during holidays and specifically in the beaches while casual clothes are used at home where no special condition applies.
Gift giving among Americans is generally conducted during special occasions. During wedding, birthdays and anniversaries, people present gifts mostly to those celebrating the occasion. Gifts are also exchanged during special occasions like Christmas and Easter. Not much attention is given to the aspects of giving gifts with the exception of Christmas period. Also, no special items are designated to be presented as gifts even though some items go well with specific occasions as compared to others. Special notes and cards are commonly used as gifts in America. People also tend to bring gifts to families whenever invited into a friend’s home. This is done as a gesture of politeness and mostly seen when people are invited for dinner by friends or acquaintances. Opening a gift immediately it is given is normal as no specific ritual govern the way it should be done (Adams and Strother-Adams 34).
Cultures from different societies around the world are in some special way very unique. Despite the use of same elements in describing culture, each and every society has its own way of handling the common elements. This discussion is true to this fact as it has provided details on how the various elements of culture are viewed differently in Greece and in America.
The Greek, like Americans also share gifts mostly among family members and friend. Occasions which call for gift giving includes, Christmas and name days. Name days are considered of more significance than birthdays considering the saints after which the children are named after. Only few individuals therefore celebrate their birthdays.
It is required that gifts sent during these occasions be affordable. This is because people exchange gives and buying an expensive gift for someone would put much pressure on him to reciprocate with an equally expensive one. This in most cases causes inconveniences. Like the Americans, they are required to come along with some gifts whenever invited to dinner by an acquaintance. Flowers are most commonly used and are sometimes sent ahead of the occasion. In addition, gifts are enclosed in special wrappings and are mainly opened on reception.
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