Culture Day: A Look at Asia’s Cultures

Angie Reyes

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Kicking off our celebration is Asia, and it seemed like the best option due to Japan’s location and influences.  Now let’s dive in deep and take apart a handful of the monumental culture of Asia.

Asian Holidays

Chinese New Year

Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year marks the start of the new lunar cycle on the Chinese calendar. Dating back as far as prehistory, belief says that Buddha decided to gift 12 animals that came to honor him, and so each animal was given one of the 12 years on the Chinese calendar. 2017 was the year of the rooster, and the up and coming 2018 year will honor the dog. To celebrate, people usually hold large banquets and make offerings to household deities. Massive parades are held, too. One of them is the lantern festival, where people hang decorated lanterns in a temple and carry lanterns to an evening parade.

Holi

In India, the end of winter brings along with it an explosion of colors. Holi, also known as Festival of Colors, is a Hindu Spring celebration that commemorates the victory of good over evil through the burning of a demoness named Holika. It is said that this victory was due to unwavering dedication to Lord Vishnu, the god of preservation. To honor this burning, Hindus make light large bonfires the night before Holi and do a special ritual. When Holi arrives, people celebrate by smearing colored powder on faces, throwing colored water, and dancing under water sprinklers. This is because Lord Krishna, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, did nearly the exact same thing to prank village girls. Many special celebrations are hosted in the bigger cities of Delhi and Mumbai.

Language

Due to it’s large size, Asia has many different languages that have roots throughout history. In fact, it is often hard for those who were raised and taught the language of a certain area in Asia to speak with other who are from different parts. This is because of the huge variety in language and the slang that comes with an area. While it does carry many smaller languages, the continent has many common languages. These are Urdu, Chinese, Hindi, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Tamil, Arabic and Bahasa. Though some say they are difficult, it would never hurt to look into learning one of these intricate languages.

Religion

Religion in Asia is a bundle of color and tradition that brings a beauty to the diverse continent. Huge festivals bring together people of all backgrounds, and the historical temples that decorate the land bring something truly special to the environment and sights of Asia. Anyone that is visiting can see that while there are many different religions, there are many similarities as well. Some of the biggest religions in Asia includes Hinduism, Taoism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. It would definitely being in someone’s best interest to delve further into these unique and beautiful religions.

Food

Every part of Asia has different norms when it comes to food, all branching it out due to the variety of environments and backgrounds of every person or group of people. To make it simpler, we can split up into three large groups. The first is southwestern food, that comes from countries like India and Pakistan. Some of the most important foods in this group are nan, mutton, kebabs, and many strong spices such as cloves. Curry and rice are also a big part of southwestern food. Next is northeastern food from countries such as China and Japan. Here, food becomes more than just a thing to eat. It becomes and offering to sacred deities and medicine for people so that they can heal. Here in America, Chinese food is arguably one of the most popular Asian cuisines. Of course the foods are Americanized and aren’t always traditional. Looking at some of the northeastern countries leads us to the conclusion that Japan uses more deep-frying while Korea does a lot more grilling and uses more hot chili spices. Last but not least is southeastern style, which originates from places like Thailand and Singapore. It is traditional for food in this region to be lightly- prepared and aromatic, meaning ” a food item which enhances the flavor or smell of a dish”. Quick stir-frying, steaming, and/or boiling are all evenly balanced, and many different spices and seasonings are put in to make it even more flavorful. Fish sauce is also a big part of southeastern food, and can be found in most dishes. All together, these foods bring special and diverse flavors that definitely honor the culture of Asia. Maybe having curry or miso soup for dinner isn’t such as bad idea.

In the end, everyone should realize the specialties that come with Asian culture. It should always be in your mind to respect, and sometimes even celebrate, this grand collection of cuisine, religion, language, and holidays. While you may not notice it, much of your daily life would be very different if it wasn’t for Asia. So at least every once in a while take a step back and appreciate the wonderful beauties of the Asian continent.

 

 

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Culture Day: A Look at Asia’s Cultures