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Is there such thing as English culture anymore?

(41 Posts)
Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 10:46:11

Okay actually I'm not sure if this is the right catergory, I am just genuinly interested in other peoples views and not trying to start a war of words
I have spent years of my life living abroad in several different countries (Japan, Thailand & Brazil) and among other things love the rich cultural aspect & identity of these countries, there is a real sense of pride (not in a BNP way!!!) in their country & culture. I personally don't see as much of this in England, except for when the world cup is on. My husband is Brazilian/Japanese and when teaching our children about their cultural background he has so much to teach them and pride to instill in them and I always seem to have less. I saw a comment on mumsnet the other day saying ' England doesn't have an 'English culture', we a multi-cultural society', what do you think? Can I just add that Brazil is a complete mix racially, far more so than the UK. Am interested to hear your views!

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 10:49:13

I think I've duplictaed this thread! Can I just add that my husband has a Brazilian flag up in our house, but if I did this people would think I was a BNP supporter!

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:00:02

Anybody therehmm?

EricNorthmansMistress Sun 07-Nov-10 11:07:33

Yes it does. Religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, all pretty basic elements of British culture that you will not find in many other places across the world. We have history and traditions (bonfire night?) which are as deep rooted as any other culture's. We do not have a particular shared religion really, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

You can be proud to be british without being jingoistic about it, and for me, pride in my country has bugger all to do with the flag, which is why it would never occur to me to display the union or english flag.

MmeLindt Sun 07-Nov-10 11:11:06

I think there is a sense of pride in the British culture, but in typical British fashion, we do not bang on about it.

The Brits are not like the Brazilians or the Italians. We are hopeless at accepting compliments, about blowing our own trumpets.

If a foreigner says they love Britain we are as likely to say, "Bet you don't love the weather", as to say, "Oh, yes it is a wonderful country".

I can highly recommend the book Watching The English. The writer touches on the different aspects of the British culture. It is fascinating.

JeelyPiece Sun 07-Nov-10 11:12:22

Are you talking about British or English? They are not synonyms despite what a lot of people seem to think.

MmeLindt Sun 07-Nov-10 11:12:23

You can see pride in British culture, when you go to a village fete, or watch The Proms, or tune into The Archers, or even Corrie.

The British celebrate their country quietly.

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:13:05

Lots of countries around the world have religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, some even more so than the UK, for example in Thailand there is hardly any homophobia whereas here it can be rife. I've only been to two countries which didn't have these freedoms and they were Malaysia & Morroco.
Not saying I want to display a flag, rather that if I did people would question my political leanings

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:14:07

MmeLindt thanks I will, sounds an interesting read!

cory Sun 07-Nov-10 11:14:16

Yes, of course there is, it is just manifested in different ways.

In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that sticking up an English flag up for English culture (out of the football season) would be a weak abdication of national identity- this is not how the English traditionally manifest pride in their culture: why should they want to be just the same as the Brazilians when their way of doing things is equally good? wink

I was at the Schools Shakespeare Festival last night and the pride displayed by those teenagers in the language and literature they were performing was unmistakable- why would they need to wave a flag when they have the Bard?

You have soo much to teach your children about English culture, because there is so much culture to teach. And is still there and it is still appreciated. It just doesn't need flags to advertise it.

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:15:21

JeelyPiece sorry I mean English, my mum is Scottish and very loud & proud about it!

pointydog Sun 07-Nov-10 11:16:48

Bonfire Night is a good example.
Fish and Chips, Full English, Afternoon Tea - they are all very english types of food/meals, no?
Some places do maypole dancging and morris dancers, I think.

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:18:28

cory I wish I hadn't said anything baout the flags now, it was just a comparison I found interesting! Glad for all your views, perhaps sublety is one of our cultural aspects grin which is why I'm not seeing it as obviously as other cultures

Wintersnow Sun 07-Nov-10 11:19:00

Morris dancing did spring to mind actually, although I don't know much about it!

cory Sun 07-Nov-10 11:28:07

Coming at this as a foreigner, it has always seemed to me that one of the principal aspects of the English characters are that they always keep telling you that subtlety is one of their defining features and that they are incapable of blowing their own trumpet. I have had English modesty rammed down my throat since I first arrived in the country as a young teen; every English person I meet is eager to tell me about it.

It reminds me of a story from antiquity of a young man who was desperate to be considered a philosopher (presumably Stoic) like his teacher. In the end he was seized by the authorities and tortured for his philosphical beliefs. He endured the torture heroically, and then when it was over turned to his teacher:

-Am I a philosopher now?

To which his teacher replied:

- If you had stayed silent, you would have been a philosopher. (si tacuisses, philosophus remansisses).

Modesty is almost more impressive if it is not mentioned.

cory Sun 07-Nov-10 11:28:43

typo: one of the principal aspects is

theevildead2 Sun 07-Nov-10 11:29:48

I don't think wandering around shouting you are English or British makes the culture.

I'm American I live here. I like the old fashioned maybe out dated ideas of english culture. I love tea rooms and sponge cakes and the architecture and the old ladies that still get excited making fruit cakes.

I also see that what is becoming British culture is a lot of loutish crappy behaviour. Too much drink for the sake of getting drunk not enough enjoying the drink. I don't think multi cultaralism is spoiling it at all. Think the media needs to stop making arseholes the centre of attention (think the way CHAV was all you read on the cover of papers for 4 years)so that arseholes don't become the entire culture.

MillyR Sun 07-Nov-10 11:30:53

Of course there is such a thing as English culture. Look at all of the amazing English bands that have existed over the last 50 years: the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Stone Roses, Sex Pistols, Blur, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Cure, Fairport Convention, New Order and so on.

Even if you just wrote a list of all the amazing bands that came out of Manchester, our musical tradition would still be amazing and loved by many people in the world who are not from England.

Then think of our literature - Dickens, Orwell, Keats, and on and on.

We also have a wonderful landscape, glorious painters, comforting food, architecture, historical sites and a creative language with diverse dialects and accents.

It is ludicrous to say the English has no culture - our culture is consumed by people all over the world.

MmeLindt Sun 07-Nov-10 11:33:19

It is not so much modesty, I would say, as self-depreciation. Brits are really bad at accepting compliments, they often try to deflect compliments with humour.

MillyR Sun 07-Nov-10 11:36:18

Also, OP, of course both Britain and England are multi-cultural societies. Every society is multi-cultural.

Bonsoir Sun 07-Nov-10 11:37:52

I live abroad (France) and my DD is steeped in English culture!

cory Sun 07-Nov-10 11:38:27

Yes, that is true, MmeLindt, but I wasn't referring to that (and in fact, that is no different to Northern Europe). I was referring to the fact that they will actually spell out to you that We British are so modest, We cannot blow our own trumpet. This is not deflecting, it is drawing attention.

Deflecting compliments with jokes is fairly common in all of Northern Europe ime but the British really do seem to think they are unique in this aspect- and they mention it openly and frequently.

Btw I do think British culture is wonderful.

colditz Sun 07-Nov-10 11:38:45

Lots of things are part of our culture but we don't see it for the same reason that fish don't see water.

colditz Sun 07-Nov-10 11:42:07

it is common throughout Northern Europe but we are the only country who speak English, so we find that we are compared to Americans a lot, and because we tend to be too fat, also mistaken for them a lot. It's natural to not want to be thought of as an American tourist when, apart from brit football hooligans who are easily spotted, the American tourist is the most dreaded type of tourist anywhere in Europe.

so of course we make a big thing about being polite, and quiet, self deprecating, and almost disablingly unable to cause a scene, when American tourists are one big walking, complaining scene before they even get upset!

MmeLindt Sun 07-Nov-10 11:44:02

Do you think so, Cory?

Never noticed it before, but will pay more attention.

I lived in Germany for many years, and found they were much better at being proud of their achievements - on a personal level - but the country as a whole finds it difficult to express pride in their country (due to the shame felt about the war).

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