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Role of Food in Different Cultures

Updated January 13, 2022
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Role of Food in Different Cultures essay

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Culture includes someone’s beliefs, customs, knowledge, religion and morals. Everyone has different cultures depending on where you were raised, or how you were raised. Many different people with different races, languages, religion and diversity of cultures have combined into one culture. We are all one human species. We are differed by our unique traditions and society. People with different cultures and background interact with each other, and this may cause misunderstanding and confusion. Cultures or religion can control what you eat. Food is an important part of religious observance and spiritual ritual for many faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The role of food in cultural practices and religious beliefs is different among each person and community (Kottak, 2012). These different food norms come from different forms of enculturation. Each person has different cultures, follow different customs, and believe different beliefs.

Various religious groups include food as a important part of their faith. Understanding the role of food in cultural and religious practice is an important part of showing respect of the people in the religious communities. We cannot make assumptions about a person’s culture and beliefs. The various faiths of Christianity include Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. They have many different faiths and laws. Some Catholic and Orthodox Christians observe several fast days during the year. For example they may fast or avoid meat on Fridays, during Lent or on Good Friday. Some eat fish instead.

Most Protestants observe only Easter and Christmas as feast days and don’t follow the usual fasting. The ritual of communion is celebrated by many Christians. This involves eating bread and drinking wine to represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Some Christians, members of the Salvation Army, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and other Protestant churches don’t drink alcohol. Many Seventh Day Adventists don’t eat meat or dairy products. Those that do eat meat, don’t eat pork. By not eating specific foods or fasting is considered to be ‘praying with the body’ to respect those people around the world who regularly face starvation (better health channel).

I am Jewish and my religion consists many of norms and rules. In the past month, I had a holiday named “sukkot.” During the holiday, I am not allowed to use any source of electricity, or do any shopping. This might sound very extreme to some people, but this is what my customs are. During this holiday, we built a small house made out of wood and leaves, and we sit inside it when we eat our meals. My culture is an enculturation, which means process of culture is learned and passed down from generation to generation. My holiday is an enculturation, and I follow it because that is the way I was taught.

Each person has a different culture, depending how they were raised or where they are from. I can understand why people stare at us when they see us eating outside in a small wood looking box, since this is not their custom. It may seem strange to others, however this is my custom and beliefs and every religion has different beliefs. Instead of my neighbors judging us right away, they kindly asked us questions about the holiday and wanted to learn more about it. I loved how they were eager to learn more about our culture and how social sensitive they were towards our culture. Even though we share different customs, we are still all very alike.

Culture is not the same. Each person may have different views and beliefs. Just because someone’s culture is different than ours, it doesn’t make their culture “right” or “wrong.” I love to explore different cultures and learn from them. Each culture has their own significant, and it is beautiful to watch everyone from different societies come together as a whole. People with different cultures speak differently, cook differently, or even dress up differently. Each person is unique and different. I love to learn more languages and to try different types of food. My best friends custom is that she always takes off her shoes before entering a house. She said that was the way she was raised and it shows respect and politeness when your entering the home. Even though we have different customs, we both still respect each others customs and beliefs (Purch, 2017).

Judaism can be Liberal or Orthodox, depending on how strictly people follow the Jewish laws. Everyone follows it differently. Kashrut refers to the laws of food in the Jewish religion. Kosher means that a food is permitted. Foods such as pork and shellfish are strictly forbidden. The Jewish food laws was created more than 3,000 years ago and has a formal code of behaviour that shows what the Jewish community is all about. Kashrut is a very strict law that all Jews must keep. It has many laws that have to do with Kashrut. Foods must be prepared in the right way in order to be Kosher.

For example, animals that provide meat must be slaughtered correctly. Eating meat and dairy, meat and fish are forbidden. Ritualised fasting is also included in Judaism e.g. a fast called Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, most important day of the year where Hashem is judging all Jews for the upcoming year. It is the longest fast of the year that lasts from dusk till dusk. Passover, usually around April, exempts all Jews from eating anything that has been made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt. Instead, matzah, an unleavened flatbread made of flour and water is eaten on this holiday. The food that we eat helps to tell the story of the Exodus e.g. bitter herbs symbolize the suffering of the Israelites under Egyptian rule (better health channel).

Cultures or religion can control what you eat. Food is an important part of religious observance and spiritual ritual for many faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The role of food in cultural practices and religious beliefs is different among each person and community. Christians have many different faiths and laws. Some Catholic and Orthodox Christians observe several fast days during the year e.g. they may fast or avoid meat on Fridays, during Lent or on Good Friday. Some eat fish instead. Jews also have many different customs. We also have to fast multiple times of the year and eat certain types of foods on different holidays that symbolize multiple things.

Works Cited

  1. Kottak, Conrad Phillip. Window on Humanity a Concise Introduction to Anthropology. McGraw-Hill, 2012.
  2. Zimmermann, Kim Ann. “What Is Culture? | Definition of Culture.” LiveScience, Purch, 12 July 2017, www.livescience.com/21478-what-is-culture-definition-of-culture.html.
  3. http://www.imagineeducation.com-food_culture_and_religion/
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