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Culture can be defined as the way of life associated with a community or a group of people including their beliefs, traditions, rituals, art, behavior and thoughts. It describes the “shared patterns of belief, feeling and adaptation which people carry in their minds”. Thus, culture can be conceptualized as an organized set of ideas, habits as well as conditioned responses that are shared by members of a given society. This paper discuses the concept of culture by focusing on the Romanian culture. The physical geography of Romania, as well as its weather pattern, will be discussed alongside their contributions to Romanian culture. Civil considerations will also be discussed by evaluating the factors of ASCOPE.
Characteristics that Define a Culture
A typical culture has the following characteristics. First, culture is learned and acquired over time. The various beliefs, values or traditions shared by the population can only be considered cultural if they can be learned and shared. Culture can be learned or acquired through imitation, indoctrination and conditioning. Second, culture is transmitted in the society over time. This means that it must be passed on to future generations through communication and learning. Third, culture is a social phenomenon. It is normally developed through the interaction of individuals within a large group such as a society. Fourth, culture is developed through ideology. Ideas and symbols are important tools that are used to give meaning to individuals’ experiences and their environment in various cultures. Thus, individuals tend to perceive their world in accordance with the stand-point of their culture. Five, culture facilitates the satisfaction of human needs. It defines the means through which members of a given society can fulfill their needs such as food, shelter and clothing. For example, in the culture of hunter and gathering communities, individuals obtained food through hunting wild animals and collecting wild fruits. Finally, culture is cumulative. This means that the important features of a given culture can be preserved.
Common Culture and Characteristics of Romania
Overview of Romania
Romania is located in southeastern Europe, specifically at the northern end of the Balkan Peninsula. The country borders Ukraine and Moldova in the north and Hungary in northwest. In the south, Romania borders Serbia and Bulgaria while in the east it borders the Black Sea. The total land area covered by the country is approximately 91,699 square miles.
Romania has a vast and complex terrain which can be described as follows. Nearly one third of the country is covered by the Carpathian Mountains. These mountains surround the Transylvanian Plateau thereby separating it from the Moldavia and Walachia mountain regions. The eastern and southern regions of Romania mainly consist of rolling plains. The Danube River runs through the country and forms Romanian border with Serbia and Bulgaria. Danube River empties into the Black Sea, and it is mainly used for irrigation, as well as generation of hydroelectric power.
The key infrastructure in Romania consists of road networks, railway systems as well as sea and airport. Located in central Walachia region, Bucharest is Romania’s capital and largest city. Other major cities in the country include Brasov, Constanta, Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara. Even though modern buildings have since been constructed in the cities, some old architecture dating back to the 17th and 18th century still exist. The old fashioned, traditional houses dominate the rural areas. Overall, transport and communication infrastructure is well developed in the cities as compared to the rural areas.
The communication style in Romania is a combination of direct and indirect approaches. Even though being straightforward is valued by Romanians, information is always delivered in a sensitive way. The level of relationships between individuals determines how they communicate. Diplomacy is normally emphasized in formal and newly established relationships. Romanians tend to speak frankly with each other after their relationships have passed the initial stages of development.
Like other European countries, Romania has experienced several military conflicts in the past. Such conflicts led to the emergence of the present Romania. The first conflict occurred in 106 C.E when the Roman Empire conquered the Dacians who were the first inhabitants of Romania. The Romans intermarried with the Dacians, and this led to significant change in the customs and language in the region. Various tribes from the north such the Magyars and the Saxons invaded the region between 200s and 1100s. The Walachia and Moldavia regions were invaded by the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Ottoman Empire became weak in the late 1800s following a series of inversions by the Russians. In 1877, a joint revolt by the Romanian and Russian troops against the Turks led to the end of Turkish domination in the region. Romania later became a kingdom in 1881 under the leadership of Prince Carol. The increase in discontent among Romanian peasants led to a revolt against the upper class in 1907. Romania also joined both World War I and II.
Romania has four seasons, which can be described as follows. It experiences cold winters with temperatures ranging between 00C to -50C. The winter season is also characterized by snow fall in the mountains. The spring season is associated with a pleasant weather pattern. The mornings and nights are usually cool while the days are warm. The summer season is characterized by hot days especially along the coast of the Black Sea as well as the Transylvania region. In these areas, day temperatures can be as high as 300C during the summer season. Finally, Romania experiences an autumn season that is characterized by a cool and dry weather.
The severe winter has a negative effect on agriculture in Romania. The low temperatures limit the growth of most food and cash crops in the country. The snow fall also covers the farm lands thus making it difficult to cultivate such land. Most citizens prefer to go for vacations during the severe winter periods. Smuggling and other criminal acts such as burglary are prevalent during winter seasons. This is attributed to the fact that little out-door activities take place during winter and thus the criminals are not likely to be detected by the public and security officers. The summer and spring seasons encourage agricultural activities since they are characterized by favorable weather patterns. Out-door activities such as traveling or visiting parks are also common during the spring and summer seasons. The cool and dry weather associated with the autumn season is unsuitable for agriculture.
Romania is a “hierarchical society where age and position are respected”. Older individuals in Romania are considered to be wise due to the fact that they have earned life experiences. The population is organized in cities, small towns and villages. While the lifestyle of citizens living in cities has been influenced by western culture, those who live in the small towns and villages have hardly changed their lifestyles. Tradition and folklore are integral elements of the Romanian culture. Wood carvings, woven carpets, as well as pottery, are also important elements of Romanian culture. Important events include the Independence Day celebration that is normally held on 23rd August. Labor Day and National Day celebrations are normally held on 1st May and 1st December respectively. Other events include traditional festivals such as the Pageant of Juni which is usual held in Brasov city.
The People of Romania
The Romanian society is generally divided into two classes, the lower class and the upper class. However, there is also a middle class who live and work in various cities. Majority of the people live below the poverty line. Consequently, the standard of Living in Romania is low as compared to other parts of Europe. Social stratification is based on wealth and material possessions such as cars and household goods.
Authority and leadership in Romania is based on a democratic system of governance. The president is directly elected by the citizens. He or she appoints the prime minster and other cabinet ministers. At the local level, the older people are highly respected. Besides, they are entrusted with the responsibility of making decisions.
In Romania, division of labor is mainly based on gender. Even though most women are formally employed, they tend to hold junior positions. Women are also the main workers in the agricultural sector. Romanians consider jobs in the agricultural sector to be undesirable. Most men stopped working in the agricultural sector in early 1950s in order to pursue white collar jobs. Household chores are mainly done by women and female children.
Traditionally, parents arranged marriages for their children with the aid of a matchmaker. In such marriages, the bride was expected to pay some dowry before the couples were allowed to wed. Today young Romanians choose their spouses on their own. However, some elements of traditional marriages have been preserved and form part of the modern church weddings.
Romanian families are patriarchal. The father heads the family while the mother participates in the socialization of the children. The family is an important social unit since the members derive assistance from it during times of need.
Due to house shortages, most generations live together. The eldest son traditionally inherited the family’s estate. However, women have since been allowed to inherit property. Kinship ties are still strong and the society places emphasis on lending a hand to the extended family. Strong kinship ties were developed during the communist regimes in order to enhance the unity of Romanians.
About 80 percent of Romanians belong to various religious groups. 70 percent of the population belongs to the Romanian Orthodox Church while Roman Catholic Church accounts for only six percent of the population. Another six percent of the population is Protestant while the remaining eighteen percent is not affiliated to any religious group.
Romanian is the official language in Romania. Nearly 89 percent of the citizens can speak Romanian. The other popular language is Hungarian which is spoken by seven percent of the population. About 1.5 percent of the population can speak German and Romanian.
From the above discussion, culture can be described as an organized set of ideas, habits as well as conditioned responses that are shared by members of a given society. Every society or country has a culture that is unique to it. The Romanian culture is characterized by a rich tradition, cultural artifacts and folklore. The interactions between Romanians and the tribes that invaded the region helped in developing and shaping the Romanian culture. Despite the influence of such interactions, the main elements of Romanian culture such as traditions and folklore have been preserved. Today, young Romanians especially those living in the cities, tend to adopt the western lifestyle.