May 3, 2010
Differences between cultures are wide-ranging and there are also many differences among cultures that are geographically close. The noticeable differences are from the uniqueness of specific cultures or of an individual influenced from belonging to his or her family culture. Families have tremendously strong connections for an individual to remain within and follow the customs of the culture he or she has been raised. Cultural Identity and Bias
Families have a strong influence, no matter which culture, on the individuals belonging to the immediate family unit including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In the Greek culture, life is centered on the family unit. The father is the head of the house and has final word of any decisions made. Although it has been said that “the man is the head but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants” (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2002). Marrying a Greek man, having Greek children, and living a Greek life is what is expected of young Greek women. The thought of marrying a non-Greek is unfathomable and not easily accepted within the structure of most Greek families. The father would have to decide on accepting this change and the young woman would have a difficult time being accepted within her own family for making this sort of decision.
Most Greek families work for the family businesses. Hiring outside of the family is unacceptable as the Greek family is enormous and consists of enough members to fill any vacant position. As the father is the hierarchy, decisions are made by him and when the head of the house makes a decision it is final. Change is very hard to accept, which is why going outside of the Greek culture is a hard change to make. Religion and learning the cultural ways from the old world is imperative to the Greek family members, carrying on tradition is highly important and expected from all members. The tradition of asking for the father’s permission to date his daughter or marry his daughter is an important tradition to follow and a mistake to forget. An old world view of educating women as a mistake is difficult to overcome and another change that the younger Greek generation fights regularly for family acceptance.
The Greek family has many traditions passed down to each generation. An example of this is marrying in a Greek Orthodox church. For a non-Greek to marry an individual from an orthodox family, he or she must be baptized in the Greek faith in the Orthodox church. Once this baptism has taken place, the individual can then marry his or her fiancé as well as becoming acceptable as a Greek person within the family. The family is very protective of each other and the family is together in full force for every occasion. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, births, engagements, breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc., the family will gather with an enormous amount of food to celebrate any given reason. For an emerging young woman to embrace her culture yet find herself a path of her own, she needs to follow the advice of “don’t let your past dictate who you are, let it be part of who you become” (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2002). For a young woman to marry outside of her culture, take the necessary steps for her boyfriend to be accepted by her father and the entire family, and still hold on to her culture she must be strong in her families’ beliefs and values to bridge the gap of differences to build a strong relationship for her new husband and children to come. This young woman must always remember that in such a strong and tightly-knit family unit that her family is there for her no matter where she is or what she is doing. Cultural Patterns
Cultural patterns help identify a group of associated cultural traits that have some connection to each other (Lustig & Koester, 2006, p. 86). When two cultures come together for the sake of friendship,...
References: Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). Director, Joel Zwick; Writer, Nia Vardalos, Gold Circle Films.
Lustig, M.W. & Koester, J. (2006). Intercultural competence: interpersonal communication across cultures (5th ed.). Pearson/Allyn & Bacon
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