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    Psychological Anthropology Essay

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    Psychological anthropology is the study of individuals and their personalities and identities, within particular cultural contexts. In this paper I will identify two different cultures in the world which are the American and Japanese. Then, I will examine their traditions through various life cycles. Based on the behaviors, customs, and beliefs of each of the two cultures, I will discuss how personalities and identities are formed and shaped within the two different cultures. Finally, I will be giving two specific examples for each of the selected cultures. In Japan New Year is considered a family celebration.

    Most people go return to their home towns or parents’ homes. The majority of shops and restaurants close for 3 days, people start to prepare the traditional “o-set chi ryouri” during this time. Also there is what they call Adults Day which is a celebration for boys and girls who turn 20 in that year. What this means is that whoever turns 20 have the right to buy cigarettes and alcohol legally. In this occasion, ceremonies are held at temples and shrines and the girls wear a special way of dressing called kimono. Valentine’s Day is not the same concept as in Western customs; in Japan only women give gifts on Valentine’s Day.

    The norm is to give chocolate not only to their boyfriend or husband, but to any men among friends or fellow workers. The way it goes is that men have to give back double what they have received from the women one month later. Another celebration in Japan is Hina Matsuri which is held on March 3 of every year. It is a festival intended only for young girls. They bring these dolls and display them in the houses of unmarried girls. It is believed that these dolls bring good fortune to the unmarried girls. The superstition mentions that if the dolls are not hidden in their boxes before midnight, the girls in the house will never marry.

    White Day is the day when men have to give back the women what they have received from them in Valentine’s Day and of course the gift is doubled. The Japanese call it “Knickers Giving Day” and it is on March 14. The Japanese also hold memorial services for their dead at temples on the 7 days before the spring and autumn equinox and people visit their family graves. According to the Japanese Golden week is one of the 3 major holiday period in addition to the New Year and Obon (a Buddhist festival celebrating All Souls from July 13 to 31).

    It is called the Golden Week because it includes 3 public holidays within one week. “Kodomo no hi” which is on May 5 is devoted to boys only. So all the families with male children, fly paper streamers of carps called “koinobori”. To the Japanese it represents healthy growth. The children write poems or wishes on pieces of colored paper and attach them on tanabata trees. In addition, Japanese youths celebrate Halloween too but it is limited to wearing costumes in nightclubs in areas such as Roppongi or Shibuya in Tokyo and the kids are not allowed to trick and treat.

    The Japanese also have what is called Shichigosan. It is the tradition of taking boys who are 3 and 5 and girls who are 3 and 7 to be blessed at the local Shinto shrine and to thank for their good health and pray for future blessings. The kids wear beautiful colorful kimonos. Furthermore, Christmas is celebrated by the Japanese. They know Christmas, and if any one visits Japan during that time, decorations in supermarkets and department stores are the same as in any Western country, and some Japanese decorate Christmas trees in their houses.

    Coming to the American people, they practice their culture in different ways like food, clothing, recreation, and ceremonies as well as the education system and institutions of learning, including museums and libraries. They appreciate art in its different forms like visual, literary. American culture is rich, complex, and unique because it is a combination of different cultures at the same time. It started with the Europeans who came seeking religious freedom. Of course the Europeans brought with them their cultural patterns, especially language, the arts, and political institutions.

    Africans, Asian, and North Americans also contributed to the American culture without any doubt. All of these groups affected in their own ways the tastes in music, dress, entertainment, as well as cuisine. For this reason, American culture has a mixture of patterns and forms extracted from its diverse peoples. But the American culture has not always been in harmony with each other, because it’s “complexity has created a society that struggles to achieve tolerance and produces a uniquely casual personal style that identifies Americans everywhere” (http://www. mericanfamilytraditions. com). Democracy is one of the assets that America is proud of as well as equality. These characteristics emerged in the American environment long before occurring in European societies. Americans cherish and engage in cultural activities. They are good readers of different books and magazines providing a variety of tastes and interests. They like to visit museums, operas, and ballets. They listen to country and classical music, jazz and folk music, as well as classic rock-and-roll and new wave.

    As to sports, Americans play basketball, football, baseball, and soccer games. Without any doubt, Americans enjoy food and they have a wide range of foreign cuisines, such as Chinese, Thai, Greek, French, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Ethiopian, Cuban and Mediterranean. These restaurants are all over the country. So tourists will never feel alienated because they will always find something that ties them back to their own countries. In addition to the different cuisines, they have also developed their own regional foods, such as California cuisine and Southwestern, Creole, and Southern cooking.

    We can proudly say that “Still evolving and drawing upon its ever more diverse population, American culture has come to symbolize what is most up-to-date and modern. American culture has also become increasingly international and is imported by countries around the world. Today American culture often sets the pace in modern style. ” (http://www. americanfamilytraditions. com) References http://www. japan-guide. com http://www. americanfamilytraditions. com Miller, B. D. (2007). Cultural anthropology (Custom 4th ed. ). Boston: Allyn & Bacon

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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