American Traditions, Customs and Festivals

“America, it may be news to the learned, is a part of the human

condition and within its borders there is still a vast variety of

interest, amusement, goodness, evil, humor, absurdity, and all

the other human attributes.”

(Alistair Cooke)

There at least two generalizations that can be мейд about Americans. First, Americans tend to American Traditions, Customs and Festivals be trend-setters in lifestyles. They value their individualismquite highly. They place great emphasis on their individual differences, on having a great number of choices, and on doing things their own way. This is perhaps why general statements about American lifestyles are frequently resented by Americans. Part of being an American Traditions, Customs and Festivals American is not being, and not wanting to be, typical. Second, what is thought to be typically American today probably won’t be so for long. Since the Second World War, more and more American social and cultural habits have taken hold in Europe, from cornflakes for breakfast to the evening barbecue American Traditions, Customs and Festivals or grill party. Most interesting, therefore, are those habits and attitudes, customs and conventions which have been consistently observed among Americans over time.

The Door Is Always Open

The old tradition of hospitality to strangers is still very strong in the U.S., especially in the smaller cities and towns. “I American Traditions, Customs and Festivals was just travelling through, got talking with this American, and pretty soon he’s invited me home for dinner - amazing.” Such observations reported by visitors to the U.S., though not uncommon, are not always understood properly. The casual friendliness of many Americans should be interpreted neither American Traditions, Customs and Festivals as superficial nor as artificial, but as the result of a historically developed cultural tradition. It takes more than a brief encounter on a bus to distinguish between courteous convention and individual interest. Yet, being friendly is a virtue that many Americans value highly and expect from both American Traditions, Customs and Festivals neighbors and strangers.

Similarly, Americans are also taught to be polite when, as travelers or guests, they are asked that standard question: “How do you like it here?” As children, many were taught that in such situations, “if you can’t find something nice to say, then don’t say American Traditions, Customs and Festivals anything at all.” Other cultures have other norms of politeness, we try to be honest. Yet when these other norms are applied in America, Americans naturally interpret them through their own (“how rude!”). They are taken as a sign of bad manners.

Howdy, Neighbor

Neighborliness- getting along with your neighbors American Traditions, Customs and Festivals and helping one another in many small ways - has also been traced to the long period of settlement.

Today, most American neighborhoods still function through a casual yet complex network. Casual coming and going, borrowing and lending, offering and receiving of help among neighbors is typical of most Americans.

As would be American Traditions, Customs and Festivals expected, this is more the case in small and medium-sized cities and the suburbs than it is among the inner city, apartment-living population. In the big cities there is more anonymity and privacy, or, seen differently, more isolation and alienation.

There are, then, two sides to this American Traditions, Customs and Festivals tradition of neighborliness. In a land where people move frequently and freely, they have become adept at making new acquaintances and forming new friendships. However, most American homes are separated from one another by fences, hedges, or, in some parts of the country such as New England American Traditions, Customs and Festivals or the Southwest, by walls. Even where there are no physical barriers the mental barriers are well-understood and respected. Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” brings out both sides of the American attitude. One neighbor thinks, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” while the other says, “Good American Traditions, Customs and Festivals fences make good neighbors.”

There is a delicate balance between two views. One is to be friendly to your neighbor. The other is to keep your nose out of his or her business. The line drawn is fine, but like the line that separates one family American Traditions, Customs and Festivals’s grass from the next, it’s there, even when you can’t see it.

Hello, I’m Mary

Americans have always felt more informal in their social and professional lives.

The habit of informality, the ease with which Americans speak to people they’ve only casually met, still surprises foreign visitors. One of American Traditions, Customs and Festivals the reasons is that the signals in the U.S. for “who is who” are less obvious and, unfortunately, sometimes assumed not to exist.

There are generally established and understood rules which parallel this informality. There are topics - income, religion, and politics, for example, that many Americans feel are American Traditions, Customs and Festivals best avoided in casual conversation. Those who insist upon formal address or titles - in general, those who take themselves too seriously - are sometimes thought to be “phoney” or pretentious. Not surprisingly, such people are often targets for humor.

Can’t You Take a Joke?

Like the British, Americans have American Traditions, Customs and Festivals a love for the intricate practical joke, the pun, and the understated quip. “Kidding around”, or “putting someone on” is part of the daily life of many Americans, and often serves as background to normal conversations. Yet joking around verbally is not just amusing. It is often quite American Traditions, Customs and Festivals serious, a way of socially testing people, or of making a point. Many Americans find it revealing how people react to kidding at their expense.


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