Term Paper: Among Countries

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Countries

Spain

Spain has a long and diversified history that includes prehistory, the Romans, the Visigoths and Roman Catholicism, among others. All these influences make the country one of the most interesting as well as unique in a world where culture tends to be mostly homogenized in terms of the Western lifestyle. Many of Spain's traditions and lifestyles are however unique to the country, making it a pleasure as a potential home as well as an attractive tourist destination.

Even today, modern Spain has a culture that is unique. Although it has adopted many of the lifestyles and elements of any 21st- century modern country, it also retains certain traditions that give it its unique character. One of these is the organization of the daily schedule. Lunch is for example the main meal of the day and is taken between 2 and 3 pm in the afternoon. The tradition is to follow this with a nap, or siesta, as it is known. The custom is in decline because most people commute between home and work. Supper is very late, between 9 and 10 pm, or sometimes even later when the weather is hot.

Meals are central to the Spanish culture, and other regular activities such as business, school and shopping are organized around these. Although actually napping after lunch is in decline, the concept of the siesta remains in the form of a two to five hour long break in the middle of the day. Most businesses are closed during this time, although bars, restaurants and large department stores remain open. This is also the time during which the main news and popular programs are broadcast o television. Spanish workers and school children return to their business in the late afternoon, at about 4:30 or even as late as 5 pm. The work day then continues until about 8 in the evening.

During weekends and holidays, it is customary in Spain to enjoy a snack before meals, which are often taken in bars. Most bars in Spain are open throughout the day. In Spain, the most well-known bar food is known as tapas. This dish is usually a combination of smaller-sized, prepared dishes. Some typical examples include mushrooms in garlic sauce, seafood in a marinade, Spanish omelette, and octopus in paprika sauce.

Spain is quite diverse in its cooking, with many variations among the different regions. Some regions feature the strange and exotic, such as baby eels and codfish, while others are renowned for their meat and vegetable dishes. With their meals, the Spanish often enjoy wine and beer, as well as strong coffee and soft drinks. Some drink tea, but this is not a preferred drink in the country.

Religion plays an important role in Spain, and its most important holidays are religious in nature. Examples are Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Corpus Christi. Non-religious holidays are regarded as far less important. Religious holidays are important event during which families gather together to enjoy an annual holiday fiesta. These are highly important in the lives of the Spanish people. The most famous of these is probably the Fiesta de San Fermin in Pamplona, which features the running of the bulls.

Tibet

In comparison with Spain, the Tibetan civilization is a fairly young one. Tibet began as a civilization ruled by an aristocratic system. It was founded during the sixth century AD, with the laws, calendar, alphabet and system of weights and measures all arising during the seventh century. Prominent figures in the country's history include the ruler Songtsen Gampo and his Chinese bride, Princess Wenchen.

The weakened dynasty was conquered by the Mongolians in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and was later relinquished to Chinese control. Tibet's well-known spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, were recognized by the Qing Dynasty between 1644 and as recently as 1911. It was also during this time that Tibet set up its own government with a minister. With the rise of the People's Republic of China, the Tibetan Autonomous Region was created, and the political power of the lamas was removed. Tibetan leaders were nominated by the central Beijing government. In Tibet, the spoken language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family, and consists of three dialects. Many Tibetans also speak Chinese.

The folklore and religion of the country are extremely interesting, although the Western mind may find it somewhat foreign. The myth states that a divine monkey married a female monster and gave birth to six children. These children were responsible for the creation of human life on earth. The monkey taught them to farm to make life easier for them.

Citizens exercise a combination of religions, including Mahayana Buddhism and Bon, the native Tibetan religion. This combination is known as Lamaism. Reincarnation is for example an accepted reality and also a system by means of which to choose lamas. Bonn incorporates the worship of gods, spirits, and nature.

A very important holiday in Tibet is the Tibetan New Year, which occurs during the first week of January and lasts three to five days. Relatives and friends gather to enjoy the festivities, much like the fiestas in Spain. Other important festivals include the Lantern Festival on January 15 and the festival that celebrates the Buddha's enlightenment and Princess Wenchen's arrival in Tibet on April 15.

Some rituals focus upon protecting children during their years of growth. A new-born baby for example receives a little piece of zamba on its forehead to promote purity. At one month, the baby is painted with a little soot on the tip of its nose to keep away ghosts. Religion is also a family activity, with parents and relatives going to the monastery to pray for young children. Family life tends to center around the male members of the family. Men inherit property, while women are required to obey her husband. Most Tibetans are monogamous and choose their own mates, although some marriages among nomads and peasants are still arranged.

Russia

Russia has a long and proud history, filled with both conflict and beauty. The feudal system was for example overthrown by communism. Like Spain, these systems have a great influence upon the culture and lives of Russians today. Until Perestroika, Russians were rewarded for community work. This created within the nation a sense of working together for the good of all.

A further element of this is the fact that the Russian culture tends to focus away from individuality. Family, friends, and even acquaintances function together as groups. Friendships are also often maintained with alternative motives to only friendship. People in power are for example searched out for friendship in order to support a career, promotion prospects, or some other form of help.

Family life also functions upon the principle of dependence. Russian families are therefore very close-knit, often with 2 or even three generations living together in apartments. The most general form of accommodation is apartment blocks, which house different families in close proximity.

Importantly, this situation is not entirely related to the ideology of non-individualism, but it is also due to the economy. In the current Russian economy, few individuals are able to fund their own accommodation. Families that live together in small apartments therefore find this arrangement beneficial on more than one level.

The emotional effect of this arrangement is significant. Russians tend to have a far more compassionate and tolerant attitude towards each other than Westerners commonly do. In other words, family members and friends tend to support each other.

This also explains the tendency in the country to marry early between the ages of 18 and 22. During the first years of marriage, the young couple might stay with their parents. On the other hand, should a woman prefer to remain single during the years when she is eligible for marriage, there is a tendency to stigmatize such a person.

In this, social status is also associated with marriage. A successful woman over 25 who is not married, will not have the same social standing as one who is married but has a less successful career. Traditionally, the woman is also seen as the guardian and caretaker of everything domestic, whether she has a career or not. This is highly demanding, but also shows the dependence of Russian families upon each other.

A prominent habit in Russia is drinking vodka, although their taste in wine is somewhat unsophisticated.

Italy

In Italy, more than two thirds of citizens live in urban areas, with the majority of accommodation being taken up by concrete apartment buildings. Single-family homes tend to be reserved for the wealthy. The older sections of Italian cities often include low buildings with apartments around the central court yard, while newer sections have more modernized apartment buildings.

In terms of family life, most children live with their parents until they marry. Other parents often help their adult children to obtain apartments close to their own. Many young women follow professions, while the grandparents look after children, although most urban areas… [END OF PREVIEW]

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