Roma Culture: Customs, Traditions & Beliefs
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The Travelers of Ireland are not ethnically Roma, but they are often considered part of the group. The Roma are also sometimes called Gypsies. However, some people consider that a derogatory term, a holdover from when it was thought these people came from Egypt. Nomadic by necessity The Romani people faced discrimination because of their dark skin and were once enslaved by Europeans. Inthe English Parliament passed a law that made being a Gypsy a felony punishable by death, according to the RSG.
The Roma have been portrayed as cunning, mysterious outsiders who tell fortunes and steal before moving on to the next town.
As a matter of survival, the Roma were continuously on the move. They developed a reputation for a nomadic lifestyle and a highly insular culture. Because of their outsider status and migratory nature, few attended school and literacy was not widespread.
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- Hola! (Hello!) and Welcome to our guide to Spanish Culture, Customs, Business Practices & Etiquette
Much of what is known about the culture comes through stories told by singers and oral histories. The German word for Gypsy, "Zigeuner," was derived from a Greek root that meant "untouchable" and accordingly, the group was deemed "racially inferior. During this time, Dr. Josef Mengele was also given permission to experiment with on twins and dwarves from the Romani community. There were also camps called Zigeunerlager that were intended just for the Roma population.
It is estimated that up toRoma died in the Holocaust. Also, because the Roma people live scattered among other populations in many different regions, their ethnic culture has been influenced by interaction with the culture of their surrounding population.
Nevertheless, there are some unique and special aspects to Romani culture. Although their unemployment record has fallen it remains high particularly among the young people of Spain. Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Spanish culture and the people; it can not account for the diversity within Spanish society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Spanish people you may meet!
During the history of Spain, there have been long periods where different religious groups have coexisted, including Muslims, Jews and Christians. Some traditions are more a cultural event rather than a religious one. During Holy Week, processions take place when participants wear a capirote which is a pointed hat of conical form and is part of the uniform of some brotherhoods and fraternities. They walk barefoot and carry a burden which is symbolic of a penitent. Religious history is apparent in every small town, where the most grandiose building is typically the church.
In the large cities the Cathedrals are almost museums. Many of the holidays in Spain are based on religion. Some of the holidays are national throughout Spain and marked N others are regional R January 1: Day of Andalusia R March 1: Day of Balearic Islands R March As in all countries that celebrate Easter, the dates vary each year between the last two weeks of March to the first two weeks of April. Day of Madrid R May Galician Literature Day R May Day of the Canary Islands R May Assumption of Mary N September 1: Day of Ceuta R September 8: Day of Catalonia R — marks the anniversary of the recapture of Barcelona in Spanish Constitution Day N December 8: Immaculate Conception N December Christmas N December Saint Stephen's Day R — Catalonia.
Traditionally, the family has been the basis of the social structure, including the nuclear and the extended family, which provide both social and financial support. The structure and size of a traditional Spanish family has changed over time. People are living longer and having less children. It is important to understand the strong regional cultures and identities that exist in Spain.
Historically, the royal family is at the top of the social strata in Spain which is embodied by the titled nobility and aristocracy.
However, in the expansion of a modern, democratic society, the boundaries between the traditional upper classes have widened with social standing measured by achievement in areas of business, culture and public services.
New wealth coupled with a burgeoning middle class play a significant role in the stratification of Spain. The old traditions relating to the nobility clinging to power and having no involvement in manual labour and commercial activity have long since passed and many members of the nobility now work in middle-class professions.
Traditionally women in Spain were the homemakers and men provided for the family. Young, unmarried women have become more independent and are migrating to cities for education or work. Inheritance laws have paved the way in the last few decades to bring equality for both sexes. However, issues have arisen for the royal family and nobility in Spain regarding a recent change in law appertaining to the inheritance of titles and property which prevent a son from taking precedence over an older sister.
There is some rebellion demanding the law be dropped and returned to the former male dominated hierarchy of inheritance. As far as family is concerned in modern Spain, men and women tend to share the parenting and household responsibilities particularly in urban areas where more women are likely to work outside the home in the cities. In the rural farming areas, the tradition of women as the homemakers tends to be more obvious although women and men often share the labour on the land in support of one another.
Children in Spain are highly prized and doted upon by parents and extended family. They are raised to have respect for their elders and to observe family values and obedience. The education of children is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen but nursery and pre-school facilities are widely available.
Pre-school begins from years of age and the next phase is for children aged between 3 years and 6 years whereby they enter primary school.
This consists of six academic years from 6 years of age through to 12 years. Secondary education then takes places between the ages of 12 and Spain is a large country with many regions each having their own version of traditional cuisine. With miles of coast, it is not surprising that many dishes feature seafood. The Spanish are particularly famed for their Paella, a recipe which is said to have its origins in Valencia which lies on the south eastern coast.
The dish is rice based and includes a mixture of vegetable, meat and fish. It is seasoned with saffron and various spices.
Another favourite is the Tapas, which is an assortment of appetizers which may be hot or cold. A typical Tapas can involve: Today, farmers still must sell a portion of the yield to the government, but the rest goes on the open market where supply and demand determine the price. In government stores, there is no negotiating of prices, but the increasing numbers of privately owned shops often welcome bargaining. There is a large black market in foreign goods such as cigarettes, alcohol, and electronic products.
Connections called guanxi are of supreme importance in acquiring such goods. It is not uncommon for products made in state-owned factories for sale by the government to find their way into private stores. Hong Kong, with a fully capitalist economy, developed under British rule into an international financial center.
The main commercial activities there are banking and high-technology product and services. The larger industries include iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, footwear, toys, food processing, automobiles, and consumer electronics. Metallurgy and machine building have received top priority in recent years and account for about one-third of industrial output.
In these, as in other industries, the country has consistently valued quantity in production over quality, and this is reflected in many of the products. Tourism, which increased during the s, fell sharply after Tiananmen Square; however, it has picked up again as the economy has continued to open to Western investors.
China imports machinery and equipment, plastics, chemicals, iron and steel, and mineral fuels, mainly from Japan, the United States, Taiwan, and South Korea. Exports include machinery and equipment, textiles and clothing, footwear, toys and sporting goods, mineral fuels, and chemicals. Trade has shifted dramatically over the years. In the s, the main trading partners were other communist countries; however, the decline of the Soviet Union as a world power changed that. Most trade today is conducted with the noncommunist world.
Initially, under communism, urban workers were assigned jobs by the government. Wages were predetermined and did not reward productivity. That system was modified in and again in to allow for wage increases and firings in relation to productivity. Under Deng Xiaoping, people were encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills as shopkeepers and taxi drivers and in other small business ventures.
Older people often become caretakers for their young grandchildren. Many continue to engage in community work and projects. Social Stratification Classes and Castes. Confucian philosophy endorses a hierarchical class system. At the top of the system are scholars, followed by farmers, artisans, and finally merchants and soldiers.
Culture, tradition, custom, law and gender equality
A good deal of social mobility was possible in that system; it was common practice for a family to save its money to invest in the education and advancement of the oldest son.
When the communists took control, they overturned this traditional hierarchy, professing the A view of the Great Wall of China, which is more than 1, miles long and is the only man-made structure visible from the moon. In fact, the new system still has an elite and a lower class. Society is divided into two main segments: According to the philosophy of the Communist Party, both classes share the same interests and goals and therefore should function in unison for the common good.
In reality, there is a large and growing gap between the rich and the poor. Weathy people live in the cities, while the poor tend to be concentrated in the countryside. However, farmers have begun to migrate to the cities in search of work in increasing numbers, giving rise to housing and employment problems and creating a burgeoning class of urban poor people. Symbols of Social Stratification. Cars, a rare commodity, are a symbol of high social and economic standing.
Comfortable living accommodations with luxuries such as hot running water are another. Many government employees who could not otherwise afford these things get them as perks of the job. As recently as the s, most people dressed in simple dark-colored clothing. Recently, more styles have become available, and brand-name or imitation brand-name American clothes are a marker of prosperity. This style of dress is more common in the cities but is visible in the countryside among the better-off farmers.
Many minority groups maintain their traditional attire. Tibetans dress in layers of clothes to protect themselves from the harsh weather. The women wrap their heads in cloth. Uighur women wear long skirts and bright-colored scarves; the men wear embroidered caps.
China is a communist state. However, the president defers to the decisions and leadership of the NPC. The NPC is responsible for writing laws and policy, delegating authority, and supervising other parts of the government.
The highest level in the executive branch of the government is the State Council, which is composed of a premier, a vice premier, councillors, and various ministers. The State Council handles issues of internal politics, defense, economy, culture, and education. Its members are appointed and can be removed by the president's decree. The country is divided into twenty-three provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities.
Taiwan is considered the twenty-third province. At the local level, elected deputies serve in a local people's congress, a smaller-scale version of the national body, which is responsible for governing within the region and reports to the State Council.
Leadership and Political Officials. Eight registered small parties are controlled by the CCP. There are no substantial opposition groups, but there are two—the Falun Gong sect and the China Democracy Party—that the government sees as potential threats.
The Falun Gong in particular has received international attention because of the government's attempts to suppress it.
The organization claims that it is a meditation group based on Buddhist and Taoist philosophies; the government considers it a cult that threatens public order and the state. The government has sent hundreds of Falun Gong members to labor camps and has imprisoned many of its leaders.
The group is legal in Hong Kong. Social Problems and Control. The legal system is a complex mixture of tradition and statute. A rudimentary civil code has been in effect sinceand new legal codes since The country continues to make efforts to improve its laws in the civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial areas.
The highest court is the Supreme People's Court, which supervises lower courts, hears appeals, and explains national laws. The crime rate is rising. Pickpocketing and petty theft are the most common offenses, but there are increasing numbers of incidents of violent crime. Prostitution and drug use are also growing problems. Public humiliation is a common punishment for crimes such as petty theft.
Prisons often put inmates to work in farming or manufacturing. The death penalty is assigned not only for violent crimes but also for acts such as bribery and corruption. The government has been known to deal harshly with political dissidents.
Many participants in the Tiananmen Square protests were imprisoned, and the government continues to punish severely any displays of opposition. The country has been cited numerous times for human rights violations. The People's Armed Police, consisting of internal security troops, is supposedly subordinate to the Ministry of Public Security but is included in the "armed forces" and in times of war acts as an adjunct to the PLA. Service in the PLA is voluntary and highly selective.
Both women and men can serve, and the army conscientiously upholds communist ideals of equality; there are no ranks in the army. As ofthere were 2. That year, however, the government introduced a plan to cut the armed forces by half a million. Social Welfare and Change Programs State-run corporations or groups of factories often provide housing, child care, education, medical care, and other services for their employees. These organizations are called danwei, or work units. They also provide compensation for injury and disability, old age, and survivors' pensions.
Many of the government's social welfare initiatives are concentrated in the cities where housing, education, and food are subsidized; in the countryside, the burden of social welfare often falls to companies, organizations, and individual families. The government supplies emergency relief in the case of natural disasters, including floods and crop failures.
The government offers financial incentives to families that comply with its one-child policy, giving them preference in housing, health care, and other social services. It has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization. There are a number of foreign health, development, and human rights organizations active in China, including the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the U.
Peace Corps, Amnesty International, and others. Before the twentieth century, women were confined to the domestic realm, while men dominated all other aspects of society. The only exception was agriculture, where women's work had a somewhat wider definition. Western influence began to infiltrate the country in A merchant rents books from a sidewalk rack on a street in Tunxi. Opportunities increased further as the country began to modernize, and under communism, women were encouraged to work outside the home.
Today women work in medicine, education, business, sports, the arts and sciences, and other fields. While men still dominate the upper levels of business and government and tend to have better paying jobs, women have made considerable progress.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Confucian values place women as strictly subordinate to men, and this was reflected in traditional society. Women had no rights and were treated as possessions, first of their father's and later of their husband's. The practice of foot binding was symbolic of the strictures women faced in all aspects of life.
From the age of seven, girls had their feet wrapped tightly, stunting their growth and virtually crippling them in the name of beauty. This practice was not outlawed until The procedure was inflicted mainly on upper-class and middle-class women, as peasant women needed full use of their feet to work in the fields.
The rejection of many traditional values early in the twentieth century resulted in increasing equality and freedom for women.
The Western presence in the nineteenth century also had an influence. Raising the status of women was a priority in the founding of the modern state. Women played an important role in the Long March and the communist struggle against the Kuomintang, and under Mao they were given legal equality to men in the home and the workplace as well as in laws governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
Despite these legal measures, women still face significant obstacles, including spousal abuse and the practice of selling women and young girls as brides. Marriage,Family, and Kinship Marriage. According to custom, marriages are arranged by the couple's parents. While this system is less rigid than it once was, it is still common for young people to use matchmakers. People take a pragmatic approach to marriage, and even those who chose their own spouses often take practical considerations as much as romantic ones into account.
Weddings are usually large, expensive affairs paid for by the groom's family. For those who can afford it, Western-style weddings are popular, with the bride in a white gown and the groom in a suit and tie. The legal age for marriage is twenty for women and twenty-two for men.
A marriage law enacted by the communists in gave women the right to choose their husbands and file for divorce. While it is difficult to obtain a divorce, rates are rising. It is common for several generations to live together under one roof.
After marriage, a woman traditionally leaves her parents' home and becomes part of her husband's family. The husband's mother runs the household and sometimes treats a new daughter-in-law harshly. Although today practical reasons compel most children to leave the parents' home, the oldest son often stays, as it is his duty to care for his aging parents. Even today, many young adults continue to live with their parents after marriage, partly because of a housing shortage in the cities.
The estate generally passes to the oldest son, although, especially in the case of wealthy and powerful men, most of their personal possession traditionally were buried with them. The remaining property went to the oldest son. Since the communists came to power inwomen have been able to inherit property.
Extended family is extremely important, and the wealthy and well educated often hire genealogists to research their family trees.
Family members, even distant relations, are valued above outsiders. The passing on of the family name is of great importance. If the oldest son in a family has no son of his own, he often is expected to adopt the son of his next youngest brother. If no sons are born in the clan, a sister's son may be adopted to carry on the name. Traditionally, male babies were valued much more highly than female offspring.
Girls were looked at as a liability and in times of economic hardship often were sold into lives of servitude or prostitution. While this has changed somewhat, those attitudes have again become prevalent with the government's one-child policy.
When families are allowed to have only one child, they want to ensure that it is a boy; for this reason, rates of female infanticide and abandonment have risen.
While babies are highly valued, it is considered bad luck to praise them aloud. It is common to offer backward compliments, remarking on a child's ugliness. A baby usually is not washed for the first three days after birth. On the third day, he or she is bathed, and friends and relatives come to view the new addition to the family.
When a male child turns one month old, the parents throw a First Moon party. The boy's head is shaved, and the hair is wrapped in a red cloth, which, after a hundred days, is thrown in the river.
This is thought to protect the child. Women usually are granted maternity leave between two months and one year, but rural women tend to go back to work earlier. Child Rearing and Education. From a very young age, children are assigned responsibilities in both the family and the community. In the countryside, this means farm chores; in the city, it consists of housework or even sweeping the street.
Schoolchildren are responsible for keeping the classroom clean and orderly. Under communism, when women were encouraged to take jobs outside the home, child care facilities became prevalent.
Grandparents also play a significant role in raising children, especially when the mother works outside the home.
Education is mandatory for nine years. Ninety-six percent of children attend kindergarten and elementary school, and about two-thirds continue on to secondary school, which lasts for three years.
In high school, students pursue either technical training or a general education. Those who receive a general education can take the extremely difficult qualifying exams to enter a university. The educational system stresses obedience and rote learning over creativity. Both traditional Confucians and the Communist Party view education as a method for inculcating values in the young. Under Mao, the educational system suffered from propaganda and the devaluation of intellectual pursuits.
Because of the size of the population, classrooms and teachers are in short supply. The country has made great progress in increasing the literacy of the general population. When the communists came to power, only 15 percent of the population could read and write.
Today, thanks to mandatory schooling for children and adult education programs, the rate is over 75 percent. Higher education is not accessible to many. Admission to the universities is extremely competitive; only 2 percent of the population attends college. In addition to the rigorous entrance examination, students are required to demonstrate their loyalty to the Communist Party. During the summers, university students perform manual labor.
The curriculum emphasizes science A mother and her children in a farming commune in Canton. Only ethnic minority families are allowed to have more than one child. It is considered a great honor to undertake advanced study, and a university degree virtually guarantees a comfortable position after graduation.
The most prestigious universities are in Beijing and Qinghua, but there are more than a hundred others scattered throughout the country. There are technical and vocational schools that train students in agriculture, medicine, mining, and education. Etiquette Deference and obedience to elders is considered extremely important. There is a hierarchy that places older people above younger and men above women; this is reflected in social interaction.
Chinese people are nonconfrontational. Saving face is of primary importance; appearing to be in the right or attempting to please someone is more important than honesty.
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It is considered rude to refuse a request even if one is unable to fulfill it. The fear of losing face is a concern that governs social interactions both large and insignificant; failure to perform a duty brings shame not just on the individual, but on the family and community as well. Individuality is often subsumed in the group identity.
There is little privacy in the home or family, and housing shortages and cramped living quarters often exaggerate this situation.
People touch often, and same-sex hand holding is common. However, physical contact between men and women in public is limited. Smiling is not necessarily a sign of happiness; it can be a display of worry or embarrassment.
Visiting is an important part of social life. Guests often drop in unannounced and are invited to join the family for a meal. It is customary to bring a small gift when visiting. As a communist state, the country is officially atheist. Fifty-nine percent of the population has no religious affiliation. Twenty percent of the people practice traditional religions Taoism and Confucianism12 percent consider themselves atheists, 6 percent are Buddhist, 2 percent are Muslim, and 1 percent are Christian.
The teachings of Confucius are laid out in The Analects.