Not all of us feel a huge connection with our cultural heritage, but quite a few of us do.
What do you think it is about our cultural heritage that draws us to it? Some people might be of the opinion that traditions are sort of archaic and not relevant anymore, or that they are not necessary in today’s modern world. Maybe for some people they aren’t, but then for others, being able to explore their cultural heritage gives them a wide variety of benefits.
Connections to Customs, Religions, Beliefs, and Social Values
Understanding your cultural heritage allows some people to be able to identify with other people who have a similar background and mindset. Cultural heritage can actually provide them with an automatic sort of belonging and unity within a group while allowing for a better understanding of previous generations in our family genealogy and a history of where we originated from.
Good and Bad Experiences
Some people believe in such a thing as DNA memory. Now, basically what this means is that good and or bad experiences that are experienced by previous generations will be passed down through the DNA to subsequent generations. For example, say a man died by falling off of a building. His children and even his grandchildren might harbor a fear of heights because of this. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?
Why is our heritage so important? Our heritage can be thought of as our own personal link to the past. Consider your own personal heritage. Maybe you have a box of old letters and photos in your attic. You might even have some of the toys that belonged to your parents when they were children that you will pass down to your own children as a part of their heritage. All of these things are important because they tell the story of where you came from.
Tangible Cultural Heritage
The term ‘cultural heritage’ might bring to mind things like archaeological sites, buildings and historical monuments, and artifacts such as sculptures, mosaics, prints, drawings, and paintings. However, the actual concept of cultural heritage expands much farther than that. In fact, it has gradually grown to where it now includes every single piece of human expression and creativity; including instruments, manuscripts, books, documents, and photographs, either as collections or as individual objects. In today’s world, the natural environment, underwater heritage, and towns are all considered to be a part of cultural heritage because communities tend to identify with the natural landscape.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
This includes things that we cannot touch and or see. Not to say that we can’t see all of them, just the things like stories, and music, traditions and the like. A few examples of intangible cultural heritage include things like: Kabuki theater, Vedic chanting, the Mediterranean Diet, Chinese Shadow puppetry, weaving and carpet making traditions, the coffee house culture of Vienna, falconry, carnivals, holy processions, flamenco, and even Mardi Gras.
Why it is Important
Having a keen understanding of your heritage, both cultural and personal, will assist you in understanding who you are. Many adolescents yearn to ‘discover’ themselves, and their role or importance in the world can often be answered simply by them studying their heritage. Of course, adolescents are not alone in this quest for self and heritage can be a great cure for anyone searching for themselves.
Yes, it is true that knowing your heritage doesn’t fully define you, but it can help you find your starting point in life. It can help with to determine what you have the potential of becoming. In a way, it can assist you in finding out the direction in which you want to go. If you happen to have people in your genealogy who have done great things, you might find that you want to further their accomplishments. On the other hand, if people in your family have been notorious, you might have a good idea of what not to do.
The sense of identity that you can get from studying your family and cultural heritage can assist you in trying to explain to others the person you want to be, but more often, it will help you in explaining it to yourself.