American culture is in all dimensions western and it has been influenced and derived from diverse ethnic communities which inhabit the land. The diverse ethnic communities have contributed to a distinctive flavor of their culture. Initially, native Americans inhabited the land before European powers came to colonize their land and eventually took it over. Over they course of history, the colonial culture blended with Native American culture and other immigrants culture to create the American culture. Through centuries of coexistence with people from all over the world American culture has continuously been evolving to match the changing times. Notably, the main cultures inhabiting the land are the Native Americans, Latin Americans, Africans and Asians.
Language is a key element in describing a culture. Whilst in America almost 300 languages are spoken, English is the most widely used language. According to (Zimmermann, 2017), over 90% of Americans speak or understand some little bit of English in which they can express themselves or communicate with other people. Whilst there is no official language in the United States, some states like Hawaii have two official languages; Hawaiian and English. However, due to large numbers of English speakers, English has become de facto language of communication. Other languages spoken in America include Germany, Arabic, French, Italian, Hindi, Chinese among others. These languages come with slight variation of the American culture which is a slight mixture of their native culture with American culture. Their accent is also noticeable while they speak English and other aspects of how they live is conspicuous. American people also have various accents of their respective states which partly stems from the way of living in those respective states. Over the years, English has evolved to become the present day American English which is slightly different from British English in spellings and pronunciation. However, American English has transcended its borders and it is at par with British English in number of users.
Religious freedom is enshrined in American constitution and it has led to diverse religions inhabiting the land. People with no religious affiliations also have a significant number and they show the inclusivity of American culture and tolerance to religion or lack of it thereof. According to (Isaac, Kloppenberg, O’Brien, & Ratner-Rosenhagen, 2016) they take up between a quarter and a fifth of the population and they are also protected by the constitution. Nearly all religions are practiced on American soil and they are part of a bigger American community that transcends religious differences. America prohibits discrimination against one’s religion and encourages tolerance and that has helped create a more closely knit American people despite religious differences. However, in the recent past since the last general elections, religious differences have started dividing the nation.
American dressing style is unique in many ways. Americans are mostly associated with jeans, sneakers, baseball caps, cowboy hats and boots. Dressing is mostly determined by age, occupation, religious and ethnic backgrounds of the people. Even in the western sense, American stand out even in the way they tie their ties. Sneakers which have been popularized by NBA are also a common piece of clothing associated with the Americans. Baseball, which is a sport that originated in the land, has also birthed a new trend of baseball caps and despite being worn the world over, they can be traced to have originated in United states. Some few clothing lines have been born in America and they have transcended their boundaries and gave the world a taste of American culture. Such are, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors etc. these dressing trends and fashion are influenced by celebrities and the media and thus lately the unique dressing of Americans has been replaced by diverse styles and keep changing rapidly.
American food is influenced by European and native American cuisines. Today there are number of foods associated with Americans and their culture. They include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, macaroni and cheese, and meat loaf. These foods are mainly carbohydrates and that can help explain why the country struggles with obesity. It has even influenced the Pacific islanders who are the world’s fattest nations for consuming American diet (CommonWealth Secretariat, 2011). Beverages mainly include coffee and tea for hot drinks. Soft drinks are represented by coca cola products which is born in America and Pepsi drinks. American cuisine has been summarized by a phrase ‘as American as apple pie’ which shows their distinctive authentic American food. Americans have also created and exported jerky and dried meats which are served as snacks. The style of cooking and main menu types is also on regions within America. Southern style cooking mainly features chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and corn bread which is often known as “American Comfort Food.” Texas and southwest have a blend of Spanish and American cuisines which includes items such as chili and burritos.
Sports is a main integral part of American culture. Americans love sports and their support for favorite teams and players has cemented their love for sports. Basketball, baseball, athletics, football are some of the sports that Americans love. In the recent past, football has become widely popular and toppled baseball as the main American sport (Nauright & Parrish, 2012). The aforementioned games other than athletics are considered to be ‘American sports’ and they have been an important part of culture. They also influence their fashion, and music trends.
American art has made a lasting impression on the world stage. It is mainly embedded in media which has developed into a lucrative industry consumed and envied all over the world. United states alone produce a third of world wide media and entertainment products. The TV industry has been vibrant and a key industry in promoting American culture within and without their borders. Hollywood, centered in California has been a popular producer of movies and tv shows with worldwide viewership and with a unique and rich depiction of American culture. American art culture goes beyond movies and tv shows to encompass theatrical history. Music has also cemented a key part of American culture though it is very diverse. Some genres like hip hop have been birthed in America and they have world wide presence. Other genres common with American people are blues, jazz, gospel, country and western, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll among others.
American people have various holidays which celebrate various historical events. July 4th, they celebrate independence typically be setting off fireworks. A Memorial Day set on last Monday in may is for fallen heroes in military service. The country’s workforce celebrates on Labor Day set on first Monday in September. Veterans day is marked on November 11 and contributions of civil rights leader King Jr. are remembered on third Monday in January. Thanksgiving falls on fourth Thursday of November shortly after Halloween which is celebrated on 31st October. Americans also inaugurate their presidents on January 20th and it is also marked as an important date in American calendar.
Concisely, American culture is rich and unique. It has gone beyond their borders and influenced other cultures all over the world. The culture continually evolves but it remains unique. The afore-described elements show the various elements that are distinctively American.
- CommonWealth Secretariat. (2011). Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Update 2011. CommonWealth Secretariat.
- Isaac, J., Kloppenberg, J. T., O’Brien, M., & Ratner-Rosenhagen, J. (2016). The Worlds of American Intellectual History. Oxford University Press.
- Nauright, J., & Parrish, C. (2012). Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO.
- Zimmermann, K. A. (2017, July 13). American Culture: Traditions and Customs of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com: https://www.livescience.com/28945-american-culture.html