What does culture mean?
If someone invites you to their house for dinner at 7pm, when will you be there? The answer depends on where in the world this dinner is happening! In some cultures in South America, people have an understanding that you are supposed to come an hour later than told. There it would be rude to show up on time — the host might still be in the shower. In other cultures, mostly in Northern Europe, Japan and the United States, it is considered disrespectful to be late. Your sense of punctuality is a value common to your culture.
A culture is the way of life of a group of people: their language, traditions, knowledge, art, holidays, music, food, and values. Religion — a set of beliefs about how the world was created, how life should be lived, and what happens when one dies — is often a very important part of one’s culture, often the most influential one. Indeed, it can influence all the other aspects of the culture.
We all belong to a culture and show this by the way we dress, how we say hello, what we eat, and how we behave. We learn these things from our families, friends, teachers, and other people in our community.
Because there are different cultures, each country around the world is unique. If you get a chance to travel you will experience many different customs, sleep in houses that are built much different than yours, and get to taste food you haven’t eaten before. But even at home you can get to know other cultures by asking classmates from other countries to share their traditions or by reading books and watching movies that were created by people from other parts of the world.
Not so long ago, people from one culture might rarely encounter people from another. Today, in a world connected by the Internet, fast air travel, and migration of people from various cultures to cities all over the world, exposure to other cultures is not only important, it is unavoidable! By understanding other cultures, we can better appreciate each other’s differences and build the foundation for living together peacefully.
Different countries have different customs: When travelling to foreign countries you might encounter some unexpected surprises. Do some research about toilets around the world — just to figure out one example of cultural differences.
By Constanze Niedermaier (Whyzz writer)
The article wasfirst published in "33 things to to explain the world to kids".