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Essay On Ancient Culture Vs Modern Culture Brand

The culture of Iran (Persian: فرهنگ یران‎, translit. Farhang-e Irān), also known as culture of Persia, is one of the oldest in the world. Owing to its dominant geo-political position and culture in the world, Iran has directly influenced cultures and peoples as far away as Italy, Macedonia, and Greece to the West, Russia to the North, the Arabian Peninsula to the South, and South and East Asia to the East. Thus an eclectic cultural elasticity has been said to be one of the key defining characteristics of the Persian spirit and a clue to its historical longevity.[1] Furthermore, Iran's culture has manifested itself in several facets throughout the history of Iran as well as the Caucasus, Central Asia, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.

The article uses the words Persian and Iranian interchangeably, sometimes referring to the language and its speakers, and other times referring to the name of pre-20th century Iran, a nomenclature which survives from western explorers and orientalists. They are not the same and the cultures of the peoples of Greater Persia are the focus of this article.

Art[edit]

Main article: Persian art

Iran has one of the richest art heritages in world history and encompasses many disciplines including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stonemasonry. There is also a very vibrant Iranian modern and contemporary art scene.

Iranian art has gone through numerous phases. The unique aesthetics of Iran is evident from the Achaemenid reliefs in Persepolis to the mosaic paintings of Bishapur. The Islamic era brought drastic changes to the styles and practice of the arts, each dynasty with its own particular foci. The Qajarid era was the last stage of classical Persian art, before modernism was imported and suffused into elements of traditionalist schools of aesthetics.

Language and literature[edit]

Main article: Persian literature

See also: Persian language and Persian literature in Western culture

Several languages are spoken in different regions of Iran. The predominant language and national language is Persian, which is spoken across the country. Azerbaijani is spoken primarily and widely in the northwest, Kurdish primarily in the west as well as Luri, Mazandarani and Gilaki at the Caspian Sea coastal regions, Arabic primarily in the Persian Gulf coastal regions, Balochi primarily in the desolate and remote far southeast, and Turkmen primarily in northern border regions. Smaller languages spread in other regions notably include Talysh, Georgian, Armenian, Assyrian, and Circassian, amongst others.

Persian literature inspired Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many others, and it has been often dubbed as a most worthy language to serve as a conduit for poetry. Dialects of Persian are sporadically spoken throughout the region from China to Syria to Russia, though mainly in the Iranian Plateau.

Contemporary Iranian literature is influenced by classical Persian poetry, but also reflects the particularities of modern-day Iran, through writers such as Houshang Moradi-Kermani, the most translated modern Iranian author, and poet Ahmad Shamlou.[2]

Religion in Iran[edit]

See also: Religion and culture in ancient Iran

Zoroastrianism was the national faith of Iran for more than a millennium before the Arab conquest. It has had an immense influence on Iranian philosophy, culture and art after the people of Iran converted to Islam.[3]

Today of the 98% of Muslims living in Iran, around 89% are Shi’a and only around 9% are Sunni.This is quite the opposite trend of the percentage distribution of Shi’a to Sunni Islam followers in the rest of the Muslim population from state to state (primarily in the Middle East) and throughout the rest of the world.

Followers of the Baha'i faith comprise the largest non-Muslim minority in Iran. Followers of the Baha'i faith are scattered throughout small communities in Iran, although there seems to be a large population of people who follow the Baha'i faith in Tehran. Most of the Baha'i are of Persian descent, although there seem to be many among the Azerbaijani and Kurdish people. The Baha'i are severely persecuted.

Followers of the Christian faith comprise around 250,000 Armenians, around 32,000 Assyrians, and a small number of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant Iranians that have been converted by missionaries in earlier centuries. Thus, Christians that live in Iran are primarily descendants of indigenous Christians that were converted during the 19th and 20th centuries. Judaism is an officially recognized faith in Iran, and in spite of the hostilities between Iran and Israel over the Palestinian issue, the millennia old Jewish community in Iran enjoys the right to practice their religion freely as well as a dedicated seat in parliament to a representative member of their faith. In addition to Christianity and Judaism, Zoroastrianism is another officially recognized religion in Iran, although followers of this faith do not hold a large population in Iran. In addition, although there have been isolated incidences of prejudice against Zoroastrians, most followers of this faith have not been persecuted for being followers of this faith.[4]

Holidays in Iran[edit]

See also: Holidays in Iran, Iranian Calendar, and List of festivals in Iran

The Persian year begins in the vernal equinox: if the astronomical vernal equinox comes before noon, then the present day is the first day of the Persian year. If the equinox falls after noon, then the next day is the official first day of the Persian year. The Persian Calendar, which is the official calendar of Iran, is a solar calendar with a starting point that is the same as the Islamic calendar. According to the Iran Labor Code, Friday is the weekly day of rest. Government official working hours are from Saturday to Wednesday (from 8 am to 4 pm).[5]

Although the date of certain holidays in Iran are not exact (due to the calendar system they use, most of these holidays are around the same time), some of the major public holidays in Iran include Oil Nationalization Day (20 March), Nowrooz—which is the Iranian equivalent of New Years (20 March), the Prophet’s Birthday and Imam Sadeq (4 June), and the Death of Imam Khomeini (5 June). Additional holidays include The Anniversary of the Uprising Against the Shah (30 January), Ashoura (11 February), Victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution (2 April), Sizdah-Bedar—Public Outing Day to end Nowrooz (1 April), and Islamic Republic Day (20 January).

Wedding ceremonies[edit]

See also: Persian wedding

There are two stages in a typical wedding ritual in Iran. Usually both phases take place in one day. The first stage is known as "Aghd", which is basically the legal component of marriage in Iran. In this process, the Bride and Groom as well as their respective guardians sign a marriage contract. This phase usually takes place in the bride's home. After this legal process is over, the second phase, "Jashn-e Aroosi" takes place. In this step, which is basically the wedding reception, where actual feasts and celebrations are held, typically lasts from about 3–7 days. The ceremony takes place in a decorated room with flowers and a beautifully decorated spread on the floor. This spread is typically passed down from mother to daughter and is composed of very nice fabric such as "Termeh" (cashmere), "Atlas" (gold embroidered satin), or "Abrisham" (silk).

Items are placed on this spread: a Mirror (of fate), two Candelabras (representing the bride and groom and their bright future), a tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices (including poppy seeds, wild rice, angelica, salt, nigella seeds, black tea, and frankincense). These herbs and spices play specific roles ranging from breaking spells and witchcraft, to blinding the evil eye, to burning evil spirits. In addition to these herbs/spices, a special baked and decorated flatbread, a basket of decorated eggs, decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts (in their shell to represent fertility), a basket of pomegranates/apples (for a joyous future as these fruits are considered divine), a cup of rose water (from special Persian roses)—which helps perfume the air, a bowl made out of sugar (apparently to sweeten life for the newlywed couple), and a brazier holding burning coals and sprinkled with wild rue (as a way to keep the evil eye away and to purify the wedding ritual) are placed on the spread as well. Finally, there are additional items that must be placed on the spread, including a bowl of gold coins (to represent wealth and prosperity), a scarf/shawl made of silk/fine fabric (to be held over the bride and groom’s head at certain points in the ceremony), two sugar cones—which are ground above the bride and groom's head, thus symbolizing sweetness/happiness, a cup of honey (to sweeten life), a needle and seven strands of colored thread (the shawl that is held above the bride and groom’s head is sewn together with the string throughout the ceremony), and a copy of the couple’s Holy Book (other religions require different texts); but all of these books symbolize God's blessing for the couple.[6] An early age in marriage—especially for brides—is a long documented feature of marriage in Iran. While the people of Iran have been trying to legally change this practice by implementing a higher minimum in marriage, there have been countless blocks to such an attempt. Although the average age of women being married has increased by about five years in the past couple decades, young girls being married is still common feature of marriage in Iran—even though there is an article in the Iranian Civil Code that forbid the marriage of women younger than 15 years of age and males younger than 18 years of age.[7]

Persian rugs[edit]

In Iran, Persian rugs have always been a vital part of the Persian culture.

Iranians were some of the first people in history to weave carpets. First deriving from the notion of basic need, the Persian rug started out as a simple/pure weave of fabric that helped nomadic people living in ancient Iran stay warm from the cold, damp ground. As time progressed, the complexity and beauty of rugs increased to a point where rugs are now bought as decorative pieces.[8] Because of the long history of fine silk and wool rug weaving in Iran, Persian rugs are world-renowned as some of the most beautiful, intricately designed rugs available. Around various places in Iran, rugs seem to be some of the most prized possessions of the local people. Iran currently produces more rugs and carpets than all other countries in the world put together.[9]

Modern culture[edit]

Cinema[edit]

Main article: Cinema of Iran

With 300 international awards in the past 10 years, Iranian films continue to be celebrated worldwide. The best known Persian directors are Abbas Kiarostami, Majid Majidi, Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi.

Contemporary art[edit]

Main article: Iranian modern and contemporary art

See also: List of Iranian painters

There is a resurgence of interest in Iranian contemporary artists and in artists from the larger Iranian diaspora. Key notables include Shirin Aliabadi, Mohammed Ehsai, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Golnaz Fathi, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Parastou Forouhar, Pouran Jinchi, Farhad Moshiri, Shirin Neshat, Parviz Tanavoli, Y. Z. Kami, and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi.[10]

Music[edit]

Main articles: Music of Iran and Persian traditional music

See also: List of Iranian musicians and singers

The music of Persia dates to before the days of Barbod in the royal Sassanid courts. This is where many music cultures trace their distant origins.

Architecture[edit]

Main article: Iranian architecture

Traditional tea-houses[edit]

There are countless numbers of traditional tea-houses (chai khooneh) throughout Iran, and each province features its own unique cultural presentation of this ancient tradition. However, there are certain traits which are common to all tea-houses, especially the most visible aspects, strong chai (tea) and the ever-present ghalyan hookah. Almost all tea-houses serve baqleh, steam boiled fava beans (in the pod), served with salt and vinegar, as well as a variety of desserts and pastries. Many tea-houses also serve full meals, typically a variety of kebabs, as well as regional specialties.

Persian gardens[edit]

Main article: Persian gardens

The Persian garden was designed as a reflection of paradise on earth; the word "garden" itself coming from Persian roots. The special place of the garden in the Iranian heart can be seen in their architecture, in the ruins of Iran, and in their paintings.

Cuisine[edit]

Main article: Iranian cuisine

Cuisine in Iran is considered to be one of the most ancient forms of cuisine around the world. Bread is arguably the most important food in Iran, with a large variety of different bread, some of the most popular of which include: nan and hamir, which are baked in large clay ovens (also called "tenurs"). In Iranian cuisine, there are many dishes that are made from dairy products. One of the most popular of which includes yoghurt ("mast")—which has a specific fermentation process that is widely put to use amongst most Iranians. In addition, mast is used to make soup and is vital in the production of oil. In addition to these dairy products, Iranian cuisine involves a lot of dishes cooked from rice. Some popular rice dishes include boiled rice with a variety of ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and seasonings ("plov") including dishes like chelo-horesh, shish kebab with rice, chelo-kebab, rice with lamb, meatballs with rice, and kofte (plain boiled rice). In addition, Iranian cuisine is famous for its sweets. One of the most famous of which includes "baklava" with almonds, cardamom, and egg yolks. Iranian sweets typically involve the use of honey, cinnamon, lime juice, and sprouted wheat grain. One very popular dessert drink in Iran, "sherbet sharbat-portagal", is made from a mixture of orange peel and orange juice boiled in thin sugar syrup and diluted with rose water. Just like the people of many Middle Eastern countries the most preferred drink of the people of Iran is tea (without milk) or "kakhve-khana".[11]

Sports[edit]

Main article: Sport in Iran

  • The game of Polo originated with Iranian tribes in ancient times and was regularly seen throughout the country until the revolution of 1979 where it became associated with the monarchy. It continues to be played, but only in rural areas and discreetly. Recently, as of 2005, it has been acquiring an increasingly higher profile. In March 2006, there was a highly publicised tournament and all significant matches are now televised.
  • The Iranian Zoor Khaneh

Women in Persian culture[edit]

Main article: Iranian women

Since the 1979 Revolution, Iranian women have had more opportunities in some areas and more restrictions in others. One of the striking features of the Revolution was the large scale participation of women from traditional backgrounds in demonstrations leading up to the overthrow of the monarchy. The Iranian women who had gained confidence and higher education during the Pahlavi era participated in demonstrations against the Shah to topple the monarchy. The culture of education for women was established by the time of revolution so that even after the revolution, large numbers of women entered civil service and higher education,[12] and in 1996 fourteen women were elected to the Islamic Consultative Assembly. In 2003, Iran's first woman judge during the Pahlavi era, Shirin Ebadi, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in promoting human rights.

According to a UNESCO world survey, at the primary level of enrollment Iran has the highest female to male ratio in the world among sovereign nations, with a female to male ratio of 1.22 : 1.00.[13] By 1999, Iran had 140 female publishers, enough to hold an exhibition of books and magazines published by women.[14] As of 2005, 65% of Iran's university students and 43% of its salaried workers were women.[15] and as of early 2007 nearly 70% of Iran's science and engineering students are women.[16] This has led to many female school and university graduates being under-utilized. This is beginning to have an effect on Iranian society and was a contributing factor to protests by Iranian youth.

During recent decades, Iranian women have had significant presence in Iran's scientific movement, art movement, literary new wave and contemporary Iranian cinema. Women account for 60% of all students in the natural sciences, including one in five PhD students.[17]

Traditional holidays/celebrations[edit]

Main article: Iranian festivals

Iranians celebrate the following days based on a solar calendar, in addition to important religious days of Islamic and Shia calendars, which are based on a lunar calendar.

Traditional cultural inheritors of the old Persia[edit]

Main article: Persianate society

Like the Persian carpet that exhibits numerous colors and forms in a dazzling display of warmth and creativity, Persian culture is the glue that bonds the peoples of western and central Asia. The Caucasus and Central Asia "occupy an important place in the historical geography of Persian civilization. Much of the region was included in the Pre-Islamic Persian empires, and many of its ancient peoples either belonged to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European peoples (e.g. Medes and Soghdians), or were in close cultural contact with them (e.g. the Armenians).[18] In the words of Iranologist Richard Nelson Frye:

Many times I have emphasized that the present peoples of central Asia, whether Iranian or Turkic speaking, have one culture, one religion, one set of social values and traditions with only language separating them.

The Culture of Persia has thus developed over several thousand years. But historically, the peoples of what are now Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, are related to one another as part of the larger group of peoples of the Greater Iranian cultural and historical sphere. The Northern Caucasus is well within the sphere of influence of Persian culture as well, as can be seen from the many remaining relics, ruins, and works of literature from that region.(e.g. 1)(e.g. 2)

Contributions to humanity in ancient history[edit]

From the humble brick, to the windmill, Persians have mixed creativity with art and offered the world numerous contributions.[19][20] What follows is a list of just a few examples of the cultural contributions of Greater Iran.

  • (10,000 BC) - Earliest known domestication of the goat.[21][22][23][24]
  • (6000 BC) - The modern brick.[25] Some of the oldest bricks found to date are Persian, from c. 6000 BC.
  • (5000 BC) - Invention of wine. Discovery made by University of Pennsylvania excavations at Hajji Firuz Tepe in northwestern Iran.[26]
  • (5000 BC) - Invention of the Tar (lute), which led to the development of the guitar.[27][28]
  • (3000 BC) - The ziggurat. The Sialk ziggurat, according to the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran, predates that of Ur or any other of Mesopotamia's 34 ziggurats.
  • (3000 BC) - A game resembling backgammon appears in the east of Iran.[29]
  • (1400 BC - 600 BC) - Zoroastrianism: where the first prophet of a monotheistic faith arose according to some scholars,[30] claiming Zoroastrianism as being "the oldest of the revealed credal religions, which has probably had more influence on mankind directly or indirectly, more than any other faith".[31][32]
  • (576 BC - 529 BC) - The Cyrus Cylinder: The world's first charter of human rights.[33]
  • (521 BC) - The game of Polo.[34]
  • (500 BC) - First Banking System of the World, at the time of the Achaemenid, establishment of Governmental Banks to help farmers at the time of drought, floods, and other natural disasters in form of loans and forgiveness loans to restart their farms and husbandries. These Governmental Banks were effective in different forms until the end of Sassanian Empire before invasion of Arabs to Persia.[citation needed]
  • (500 BC) - The word Check has a Persian root in old Persian language. The use of this document as a check was in use from Achaemenid time to the end of Sassanian Empire. The word of [Bonchaq, or Bonchagh] in modern Persian language is new version of old Avestan and Pahlavi language "Check". In Persian it means a document which resembles money value for gold, silver and property. By law people were able to buy and sell these documents or exchange them.[citation needed]
  • (500 BC) - World's oldest staple.
  • (500 BC) - The first taxation system (under the Achaemenid Empire).
  • (500 BC) - "Royal Road" - the first courier post.[35]
  • (500 BC) - Source for introduction of the domesticated chicken into Europe.
  • (500 BC) - First cultivation of spinach.
  • (400 BC) - Yakhchals, ancient refrigerators. (See picture above)
  • (400 BC) - Ice cream.[36]
  • (250 BC) - Original excavation of a Suez Canal, begun under Darius, completed under the Ptolemies.[37]
  • (50 AD) - Peaches, a fruit of Chinese origin, were introduced to the west through Persia, as indicated by their Latin scientific name, Prunus persica, from which (by way of the French) we have the English word "peach."[38]
  • (271 AD) - Academy of Gundishapur - The first hospital.[39]
  • (700 AD) - The cookie.
  • (700 AD) - The windmill.[40]
  • (864 AD - 930 AD) - First systematic use of alcohol in Medicine: Rhazes.[41]
  • (1000 AD) - Tulips were first cultivated in medieval Persia.[42]
  • (1000 AD) - Introduction of paper to the west.[43]
  • (935 AD - 1020 AD) - Ferdowsi writes the Shahnama (Book of Kings) that resulted in the revival of Iranian culture and the expansion of the Iranian cultural sphere.
  • (980 AD - 1037 AD) - Avicenna, a physician, writes The Canon of Medicine one of the foundational manuals in the history of modern medicine.
  • (1048 AD - 1131 AD) - Khayyam, one of the greatest polymaths of all time, presents a theory of heliocentricity to his peers. His contributions to laying the foundations of algebra are also noteworthy.
  • (1207 AD - 1273 AD) - Rumi writes poetry and in 1997, the translations were best-sellers in the United States.[44]
  • Algebra and Trigonometry: Numerous Iranians were directly responsible for the establishment of Algebra, the advancement of Medicine and Chemistry, and the discovery of Trigonometry.[45]
  • Qanat, subterranean aqueducts.
  • Wind catchers, ancient air residential conditioning.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Milani, A. Lost Wisdom. 2004.ISBN 0-934211-90-6 p.15
  2. ^HOUSHMAND, Zara, "Iran", inLiterature from the "Axis of Evil" (a Words Without Borders anthology), ISBN 978-1-59558-205-8, 2006, pp.1-3
  3. ^Shaul Shaked, From Zoroastrian Iran to Islam, 1995; and Henry Corbin, En Islam Iranien: Aspects spirituels et philosophiques (4 vols.), Gallimard, 1971-3.
  4. ^"Iran Index of Religion". About.com. 
  5. ^"Iran Holidays 2013". Q++ Studio. 
  6. ^"Persian Wedding Traditions and Customs". Farsinet.com. 
  7. ^Momeni, Djamehid (August 1972). "The Difficulties of Changing the Age at Marriage in Iran". Journal of Marriage and Family. 34: 545. doi:10.2307/350454. 
  8. ^Opie, James (1981). Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia. Portland, OR. p. 47. 
  9. ^"Persian Rugs, Persian Carpets, and Oriental Rugs". Farsinet.com. 
  10. ^Esman, Abigail R. (10 January 2011). "Forbes: Why Today's Iranian Art is One of your best investments". 
  11. ^"Iranian National Cuisine". The Great Silk Road. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. 
  12. ^"Adult education offers new opportunities and options to Iranian women". Ungei.org. 6 March 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  13. ^"Girls to boys ratio, primary level enrolment statistics - countries compared". NationMaster. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  14. ^The Last Great Revolution by Robin Wright c2000, p.137
  15. ^Ebadi, Shirin, Iran Awakening : A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House, 2006 (p.210)
  16. ^Masood, Ehsan (2 November 2006). "Islam and Science: An Islamist revolution". Nature. 444 (7115): 22–25. doi:10.1038/444022a. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via nature.com. 
  17. ^"Iranian Women Hear the Call of Science". 290. sciencemag.org: 1485. doi:10.1126/science.290.5496.1485. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  18. ^Edmund Herzing, Iran and the former Soviet South, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995, ISBN 1-899658-04-1 p.48
  19. ^Iran's contribution to the world civilization. A.H. Nayer-Nouri. 1969. Tehran, General Dept. of Publications, Ministry of Culture and Arts. OCLC number: 29858074 Perry-Castañeda Library Reprinted in 1996 under the title: سهم ارزشمند ایران در فرهنگ جهان
  20. ^"The effect of Persia's culture and civilization on the world" (Taʼ̲sīr-i farhang va tamaddun-i Īrān dar jahān). Abbās Qadiyānī (عباس قدياني). Tehran. 2005. Intishārāt-i Farhang-i Maktūb. ISBN 964-94224-4-7 OCLC 70237532
  21. ^Zeder, M.A. (2001). "A metrical analysis of a collection of modern goats (Capra hircus aegargus and c.h. hircus) from Iran and Iraq: Implications for the study of caprine domestication". JAS. 28: 61–79. doi:10.1006/jasc.1999.0555. 
  22. ^Zeder, M.A. (2008). "Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusuion, and impact". PNAS. 105 (33): 11597–11640. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801317105. 
  23. ^Zeder, M.A.; Hesse, B. (2000). "The initial domestication of goats(capra hircus) in the Zagros mountains 10,000 years ago". Science. 287: 2254–2257. doi:10.1126/science.287.5461.2254. 
  24. ^MacHugh, D.E.; Bradley, D.G. (2001). "Livestock genetic origins : Goats buck the trend". PNAS. 98 (10): 5382–5384. doi:10.1073/pnas.111163198. 
  25. ^Arthur Upham Pope, Persian Architecture, 1965, New York, p.15
  26. ^Link: University of Pennsylvania"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  27. ^Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia Volume 2. Stanton AL. p.166
  28. ^.Miller L. Music and Song in Persia (RLE Iran B): The Art of Avaz Routlege 2012 p.5-8
  29. ^Richard Foltz. Iran in World History. Oxford University Press. 2015
  30. ^Abbas Milani. Lost Wisdom. 2004. Mage Publishers. p.12. ISBN 0-934211-90-6
  31. ^Mary Boyce, "Zoroastrians", London, 1979, 1.
  32. ^Notes:
  33. ^Arthur Henry Robertson and J. G. Merrills, Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study of the International, Political Science, Page 7, 1996; Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, Political Science, Page 11, 2003. ; Xenophon and Larry Hedrick, Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War, History, Page xiii, 2007
  34. ^Link: BBChttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4272210.stm
  35. ^Links:
  36. ^Links:
Safavid-era painting kept at The Grand Shah Abbas Caravanserai Hotel in Isfahan
Antique Persian Mashad Rug
Painting of Iranian female musicians from Hasht-Behesht Palace ("Palace of the 8 heavens"), Isfahan, Iran, dated 1669
Figurine holding a stringed instrument (early tanbur or lute). First half of second millennium BC. Susa. Kept at the National Museum of Iran.

The culture of Ireland includes customs and traditions, language, music, art, literature, folklore, cuisine and sports associated with Ireland and the Irish people. For most of its recorded history, Ireland's culture has been primarily Gaelic (see Gaelic Ireland). It has also been influenced by Anglo-Norman, English and Scottish culture. The Anglo-Normansinvaded Ireland in the 12th century, while the 16th/17th century conquest and colonization of Ireland saw the emergence of the Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish (or Ulster Scots). Today, there are notable cultural differences between those of Catholic and Protestant (especially Ulster Protestant) background, and between travellers and the settled population.

Due to large-scale emigration from Ireland, Irish culture has a global reach and festivals such as Saint Patrick's Day, Halloween, are celebrated all over the world.[1] Irish culture has to some degree been inherited and modified by the Irish diaspora, which in turn has influenced the home country.

Though there are many unique aspects of Irish culture, it shares substantial traits with those of Britain, other English-speaking countries, other predominantly Catholic European countries, and the other Celtic nations.

Farming and rural tradition[edit]

As archaeological evidence from sites such as the Céide Fields in County Mayo and Lough Gur in County Limerick demonstrates, farming in Ireland is an activity that goes back to the very beginnings of human settlement. In historic times, texts such as the Táin Bó Cúailinge show a society in which cattle represented a primary source of wealth and status. Little of this had changed by the time of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. Giraldus Cambrensis portrayed a Gaelic society in which cattle farming and transhumance was the norm.

Townlands, villages, parishes and counties[edit]

The Normans replaced traditional clan land management (Brehon Law) with the manorial system of land tenure and social organisation. This led to the imposition of the village, parish and county over the native system of townlands. In general, a parish was a civil and religious unit with a manor, a village and a church at its centre. Each parish incorporated one or more existing townlands into its boundaries. With the gradual extension of English feudalism over the island, the Irish county structure came into existence and was completed in 1610.

These structures are still of vital importance in the daily life of Irish communities. Apart from the religious significance of the parish, most rural postal addresses consist of house and townland names. The village and parish are key focal points around which sporting rivalries and other forms of local identity are built and most people feel a strong sense of loyalty to their native county, a loyalty which also often has its clearest expression on the sports field.

Land ownership and land hunger[edit]

With the Elizabethan English conquest, the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and the organised plantations of English and Scottish settlers, the patterns of land ownership in Ireland were altered greatly. The old order of transhumance and open range cattle breeding died out to be replaced by a structure of great landed estates, small tenant farmers with more or less precarious hold on their leases, and a mass of landless labourers. This situation continued up to the end of the 19th century, when the agitation of the Land League began to bring about land reform. In this process of reform, the former tenants and labourers became land owners, with the great estates being broken up into small- and medium-sized farms and smallholdings. The process continued well into the 20th century with the work of the Irish Land Commission. This contrasted with Britain, where many of the big estates were left intact. One consequence of this is the widely recognised cultural phenomenon of "land hunger" amongst the new class of Irish farmer. In general, this means that farming families will do almost anything to retain land ownership within the family unit, with the greatest ambition possible being the acquisition of additional land. Another is that hillwalkers in Ireland today are more constrained than their counterparts in Britain, as it is more difficult to agree rights of way with so many small farmers involved on a given route, rather than with just one landowner.

Holidays and festivals[edit]

Main articles: Gaelic calendar and Public holidays in the Republic of Ireland

The majority of the Irish calendar today still reflects the old pagan customs, with later Christian traditions also having significant influences. Christmas in Ireland has several local traditions, some in no way connected with Christianity. On 26 December (St. Stephen's Day), there is a custom of "Wrenboys"[2] who call door to door with an arrangement of assorted material (which changes in different localities) to represent a dead wren "caught in the furze", as their rhyme goes.

The national holiday in the Republic of Ireland is Saint Patrick's Day, that falls on the date 17 March and is marked by parades and festivals in cities and towns across the island of Ireland, and by the Irish diaspora around the world. The festival is in remembrance to Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Pious legend credits Patrick with the banishing of the snakes from the island, and the legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'.

In Northern Ireland on The Twelfth of July, commemorates William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne is a public holiday. The holiday is celebrated by Irish Protestants the vast majority of whom live in Northern Ireland and is notable for the numerous parades organized by the Orange Order which take place throughout Northern Ireland. These parades are colourful affairs with Orange Banners and sashes on display and include music in the form of traditional songs such as The Sash and Derry's Walls performed by a mixture of Pipe, Flute, Accordion, and Brass marching bands.

Brigid's Day (1 February, known as Imbolc or Candlemas) also does not have its origins in Christianity, being instead another religious observance superimposed at the beginning of spring. The Brigid's cross made from rushes represents a pre-Christian solar wheel.[citation needed]

Other pre-Christian festivals, whose names survive as Irish month names, are Bealtaine (May), Lúnasa (August) and Samhain (November). The last is still widely observed as Halloween which is celebrated all over the world, including in the United States followed by All Saints' Day, another Christian holiday associated with a traditional one. Important church holidays include Easter, and various Marian observances.

Religion[edit]

Main article: Religion in Ireland

Christianity in the form of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism is the most widely practiced religion in Ireland.[3][4] Christianity was brought to Ireland during or prior to the 5th century[5] and its early history among the Irish is in particular associated with Saint Patrick, who is generally considered Ireland's patron saint.[6] The Celtic festival of Samhain, known as Halloween, originated in Ireland and is now celebrated all over the world.[7]

Ireland is a place where religion and religious practice have always been held in high esteem. The majority of people on the island are Roman Catholics; however, there is a significant minority of Protestants who are mostly concentrated in Northern Ireland, where they make up a plurality of the population. The three main Protestant denominations on the island are the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. These are also joined by numerous other smaller denominations including Baptists, several American gospel groups and the Salvation Army. As well as these Protestant Churches, other minority denominations include Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). In addition to the Christian denominations there are centres for Buddhists, Hindus, Bahais, Pagans and for people of the Islamic and Jewish faiths.

In the Republic of Ireland, the last time a census asked people to specify their religion was in 2011. The result was 84.16% Roman Catholic, 2.81% Church of Ireland (Anglican), 1.07% Islam, 0.54% Presbyterian, 0.9% Christian, 0.99% Orthodox, approximately 2.07% other religious groupings and 5.88% identified as having no religion. About 1.59% did not state their religious identity.[8] Amongst the Republic's Roman Catholics, weekly church attendance dropped from 87% in 1981 to 60% in 1998, though this remained one of the highest attendance rates in Europe.

In Northern Ireland in 2011, the population was 40.8% Roman Catholic, 19.1% Presbyterian, 13.7% Church of Ireland (Anglican), 3% Methodist, 5.8% other Christian, 0.8% other religion and philosophy, 10.1% with no religion and 6.8% religion not stated.[9]

Folklore[edit]

Main article: Irish mythology

The Leprechaun has been estimated to figure to a large degree in Irish folklore. According to the tales, the leprechaun is a mischievous fairy type creature in emerald green clothing who when not playing tricks spend all their time busily making shoes, the Leprechaun is said to have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, and if ever captured by a human it has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for release.[10] More acknowledged and respected in Ireland are the stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian cycle. Legend has it he built the Giant's Causeway as stepping-stones to Scotland, so as not to get his feet wet; he also once scooped up part of Ireland to fling it at a rival, but it missed and landed in the Irish Sea — the clump became the Isle of Man and the pebble became Rockall, the void became Lough Neagh. The Irish king Brian Boru who ended the domination of the so-called High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill, is part of the historical cycle. The Irish princess Iseult is the adulterous lover of Tristan in the Arthurian romance and tragedy Tristan and Iseult. The many legends of ancient Ireland were captured by Lady Gregory in two volumes with forwards by W.B. Yeats. These stories depict the unusual power and status that Celtic women held in ancient times.

Halloween is a traditional and much celebrated holiday in Ireland on the night of 31 October.[11] The name Halloween is first attested in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller All-Hallows-Eve,[12] and according to some historians it has its roots in the gaelic festival Samhain, where the Gaels believed the border between this world and the otherworld became thin, and the dead would revisit the mortal world.[13]

In Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include; Guising — children disguised in costume going from door to door requesting food or coins – which became practice by the late 19th century,[14][15]turnips hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns,[14] holding parties where games such as apple bobbing are played.[16] Other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays.[17] Mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century popularised Halloween in North America.[18]

Literature and the arts[edit]

Main articles: Irish literature, Irish poetry, Irish fiction, Irish theatre, Irish mythology, Modern literature in Irish, Music of Ireland, and Irish dance

For a comparatively small place, the island of Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world literature in all its branches, in both the Irish and English languages. The island's most widely known literary works are undoubtedly in English. Particularly famous examples of such works are those of James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Ireland's four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature; William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Three of the four Nobel prize winners were born in Dublin (Heaney being the exception, having lived in Dublin but being born in County Londonderry), making it the birthplace of more Nobel literary laureates than any other city in the world.[20] The Irish language has the third oldest literature in Europe (after Greek and Latin),[21] the most significant body of written literature (both ancient and recent) of any Celtic language, as well as a strong oral tradition of legends and poetry. Poetry in Irish represents the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century.

The early history of Irish visual art is generally considered to begin with early carvings found at sites such as Newgrange and is traced through Bronze age artefacts, particularly ornamental gold objects, and the Celtic brooches and illuminated manuscripts of the "Insular" Early Medieval period. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong indigenous tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy.

The Irish tradition of folk music and dance is also widely known. In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was attempting to modernise, traditional Irish music fell out of favour to some extent, especially in urban areas. Young people at this time tended to look to Britain and, particularly, the United States as models of progress and jazz and rock and roll became extremely popular. During the 1960s, and inspired by the American folk music movement, there was a revival of interest in the Irish tradition. This revival was inspired by groups like The Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and Sweeney's Men and individuals like Seán Ó Riada. The annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the largest festival of Irish music in Ireland.

Before long, groups and musicians like Horslips, Van Morrison and even Thin Lizzy were incorporating elements of traditional music into a rock idiom to form a unique new sound. During the 1970s and 1980s, the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing as a matter of course. This trend can be seen more recently in the work of bands like U2, Snow Patrol, The Cranberries, The Undertones and The Corrs.

Irish Nobel Prize in Literature laureates

Languages[edit]

Main article: Languages of Ireland

Irish and English are the most widely spoken languages in Ireland. English is the most widely spoken language on the island overall, and Irish is spoken as a first language only by a small minority, primarily, though not exclusively, in the government-defined Gaeltacht regions in the Republic. A larger minority speak Irish as a second language, with 40.6% of people in the Republic of Ireland claiming some ability to speak the language in the 2011 census.[22] Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland states that Irish is the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland.[23] English in turn is recognised as the State's second official language.[23]Hiberno-English, the dialect of English spoken in most of the Republic of Ireland, has been greatly influenced by Irish.[24]

In contrast Northern Ireland, like the rest of the United Kingdom, has no official language. English, however, is the de facto official language. In addition, Irish and Ulster Scots have recognition under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, with 8.1% claiming some ability in Ulster Scots and 10.7% in Irish.[25] In addition, the dialect and accent of the people of Northern Ireland is noticeably different from that of the majority in the Republic of Ireland, being influenced by Ulster Scots and Northern Ireland's proximity to Scotland.

Several other languages are spoken on the island, including Shelta, a mixture of Irish, Romany and English, spoken widely by Travellers. Two sign languages have also been developed on the island, Northern Irish Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.

Some other languages have entered Ireland with immigrants – for example, Polish is now the second most widely spoken language in Ireland after English, Irish being the third most commonly spoken language.[26]

Food and drink[edit]

Main article: Irish cuisine

Early Ireland[edit]

There are many references to food and drink in early Irish literature. Honey seems to have been widely eaten and used in the making of mead. The old stories also contain many references to banquets, although these may well be greatly exaggerated and provide little insight into everyday diet. There are also many references to fulacht fia, which are archaeological sites commonly believed to have once been used for cooking venison. The fulacht fia have holes or troughs in the ground which can be filled with water. Meat can then be cooked by placing hot stones in the trough until the water boils. Many fulach fia sites have been identified across the island of Ireland, and some of them appear to have been in use up to the 17th century.

Excavations at the Viking settlement in the Wood Quay area of Dublin have produced a significant amount of information on the diet of the inhabitants of the town. The main animals eaten were cattle, sheep and pigs, with pigs being the most common. This popularity extended down to modern times in Ireland. Poultry and wild geese as well as fish and shellfish were also common, as were a wide range of native berries and nuts, especially hazel. The seeds of knotgrass and goosefoot were widely present and may have been used to make a porridge.

The Potato in Ireland[edit]

The potato would appear to have been introduced into Ireland in the second half of the 16th century, initially as a garden crop. It eventually came to be the main food field crop of the tenant and labouring classes. As a food source, the potato is extremely efficient in terms of energy yielded per unit area of land. The potato is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C (especially when fresh). As a result, the typical 18th- and 19th-century Irish diet of potatoes and buttermilk was a contributing factor in the population explosion that occurred in Ireland at that time. However, due to the political rule of the time, the majority of Irish produce (root crops, cereals and animal produce) was exported to Britain, leaving few strains of potato as the sole food source for the Irish. This, along with the spread of potato blight led to shortages and famine, the most notable instance being the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), which more or less undid all the growth in population of the previous century. The cause of which is attributed by some to an adherence to laissez faire economic policies by the government which kept food exports at the pre famine level leading to disease and emigration.[27][28]

Modern times[edit]

In the 20th century the usual modern selection of foods common to Western cultures has been adopted in Ireland. Both US fast-food culture and continental European dishes have influenced the country, along with other world dishes introduced in a similar fashion to the rest of the Western world. Common meals include pizza, curry, Chinese food, and lately, some west African dishes have been making an appearance. Supermarket shelves now contain ingredients for, among others, traditional, European, American (Mexican/Tex-Mex), Indian, Polish and Chinese dishes.

The proliferation of fast food has led to increasing public health problems including obesity, and one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world.[29] Due to the current "anti-meat fad", the government has broadcast television advertisements to discourage meat consumption. In the Northern Ireland, the Ulster fry has been particularly cited as being a major source for a higher incidence of cardiac problems, quoted as being a "heart attack on a plate". All the ingredients are fried, although more recently the trend is to grill as many of the ingredients as possible. These advertisements however, do not explain the health and vigor of native Irish people while eating their traditional diets high in both fat and meat.[30]

In tandem with these developments, the last quarter of the century saw the emergence of a new Irish cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish, especially salmon and trout, oysters and other shellfish, traditional soda bread, the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being made across the country, and, of course, the potato. Traditional dishes, such as the Irish stew, Dublin coddle, the Irish breakfast and potato bread, have enjoyed a resurgence. Schools like the Ballymaloe Cookery School have emerged to cater for the associated increased interest in cooking with traditional ingredients.

Representative Irish Foods

Pub culture[edit]

Pub culture pervades Irish society, across all cultural divides. The term refers to the Irish habit of frequenting public houses (pubs) or bars. Traditional pub culture is concerned with more than just drinking. Typically pubs are important meeting places, where people can gather and meet their neighbours and friends in a relaxed atmosphere; similar to the cafe cultures of other countries. Pubs vary widely according to the clientele they serve, and the area they are in. Best known, and loved amongst tourists is the traditional pub, with its traditional Irish music (or "trad music"), tavern-like warmness, and memorabilia filling it. Often such pubs will also serve food, particularly during the day. Many more modern pubs, not necessarily traditional, still emulate these pubs, only perhaps substituting traditional music for a DJ or non-traditional live music.

Many larger pubs in cities eschew such trappings entirely, opting for loud music, and focusing more on the consumption of drinks, which is not a focus of traditional Irish culture. Such venues are popular "pre-clubbing" locations. "Clubbing" has become a popular phenomenon amongst young people in Ireland during the celtic tiger years. Clubs usually vary in terms of the type of music played, and the target audience. Belfast has a unique underground club scene taking place in settings such as churches, zoos, and crematoriums.The underground scene is mainly orchestrated by DJ Christopher McCafferty .[31][32]

A significant recent change to pub culture in the Republic of Ireland has been the introduction of a smoking ban, in all workplaces, which includes pubs and restaurants. Ireland was the first country in the world to implement such a ban which was introduced on 29 March 2004.[33] A majority of the population support the ban, including a significant percentage of smokers. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in pubs has changed greatly as a result, and debate continues on whether it has boosted or lowered sales, although this is often blamed on the ever-increasing prices, or whether it is a "good thing" or a "bad thing". A similar ban, under the Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, came into effect in Northern Ireland on 30 April 2007.[34]

National and international organisations have labelled Ireland as having a problem with over-consumption of alcohol. In the late 1980s alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 25% of all hospital admissions. While this figure has been decreasing steadily, as of 2007, approximately 13% of overall hospital admissions were alcohol related.[35] In 2003, Ireland had the second-highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world, just below Luxembourg at 13.5 litres (per person 15 or more years old), according to the OECD Health Data 2009 survey.[36] According to the latest OECD figures, alcohol consumption in Ireland has dropped from 11.5 litres per adult in 2012 to 10.6 litres per adult in 2013. However, research showed that in 2013, 75% of alcohol was consumed as part of a drinking session where the person drank six or more standard units (which equates to three or more pints of beer). This meets the Health Service Executive's definition of binge drinking.[37]

Sport[edit]

Main article: Sport in Ireland

Sport on the island of Ireland is popular and widespread. Throughout the island a wide variety of sports are played, the most popular being Gaelic football, hurling, soccer, rugby union and hockey. Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, and represents 34% of total sports attendances at events in the Republic of Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%.[38] and the All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event in Ireland's sporting calendar.[39] Swimming, golf, aerobics, soccer, cycling, Gaelic football and billiards/snooker are the sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation.[40] Soccer is the most popular sport involving national teams. The success of the Ireland team at the 1990 FIFA World Cup saw 500,000 fans in Dublin to welcome the team home.[41] The team's song "Put 'Em Under Pressure" topped the Irish charts for 13 weeks.[42]

In Ireland many sports, such as rugby union, Gaelic football and hurling, are organized in an all-island basis, with a single team representing the island of Ireland in international competitions. Other sports, such as soccer, have separate organising bodies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Traditionally, those in the North who identify as Irish, predominantly Catholics and nationalists, support the Republic of Ireland team.[43] At the Olympics, a person from Northern Ireland can choose to represent either the Great Britain team or the Ireland team. Also as Northern Ireland is a Home Nation of the United Kingdom it also sends a Northern Ireland Team to the Commonwealth Games every four years.

Media[edit]

Main article: Media of Ireland

Print[edit]

In the Republic of Ireland there are several daily newspapers, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times, The Star, The Evening Herald, Daily Ireland, the Irish Sun, and the Irish language Lá Nua

Lough Gur, an early Irish farming settlement

St Brigid's Crosses are often made for St Brigid's Day

Shamrocks are often worn on St Patrick's Day

A traditional Irish Halloween turnip lantern
An Irish-language information sign in the Gaeltacht
Hurling ball (sliotar) and hurley (camán)

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