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How Has Folklore Shaped the Culture of Italy?

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Italy is home to more than 62 million individuals as of 2017 and is ranked 23rd in population size when compared with other countries throughout the world. Italian culture is steeped in the arts, family, architecture, music and food. Home of the Roman Empire and a major center of the Renaissance, culture on the Italian peninsula has flourished for centuries

Here is a brief overview of Italian customs and traditions.

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The main focus of this culture project will be the nation of Italy. Italy is a peninsula, with two main islands which include Sardinia and Sicily, located in south central Europe and extending into the Mediterranean Sea. Italy has a land mass, including the islands, of about 116,300 square feet. To get a better proportion in mind, Italy is only slightly larger than the state of Arizona. Italy is the land neighbor of several countries including Austria, France, San Marino, Slovenia, and Switzerland. The country of Italy has a unique range when it comes to climate. In northern Italy, the weather is more extreme with temperatures dropping below freezing with snow typically blanketing the region. Southern Italy on the other hand has more a more moderate climate with warmer weather. Southern Italy is the less populated region, and despite the hot temperatures the area is more known for its rural areas and farming communities. Throughout the nation, Italian culture is as alive today as it ever has been, but it goes back a long way. Evidence of human existence has been shown through recent excavations in Europe, which date back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic time periods

Italy is a nation rich in culture and customs, and this will be an interesting journey. The official language of Italy, not surprisingly, is Italian. Italian is the number one used language, while German is second, and French and Slovene have a small role in the nation’s linguistic history (Cia.gov). Italian has a long history, and it is said to be a part of the Romance group, a subplot of the Indo-European family. All Romance languages were spawned from Latin, and Italy is the one that closest resembles it to this day. One issue with the Italian language has always been the number of different dialects found within the country. Dating back to the early 13th century, different dialects can be found in different regions, and this caused many different writings and schools of thought in numerous dialects. It was not until the 17th century, when Tuscany began to be one of the most successful regions in the nation that the Tuscan dialect began to take over and is now considered to be the true national language and dialect. The earliest form of the written word of Italian is said to be from the 13th century, where we find numerous popular plays and stories. Dante Alighieri is one of Italy’s most famous authors for his work, Devine Comedy, which was written in Latin. The Italian language is basically entirely derived from Latin, and Latin is the official language of the Vatican City.

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Most of the western culture be it religion, science, education, philosophy or even art are attributed to Italy. It should be noted that unlike the ancient times, nowadays Italy has a mixture of people who have emigrated from various parts of the world. Besides music, arts and religion, Italy also boosts of a well performing economy and political structures which have far reaching effects to the rest of the world

Italians like associating themselves with one another especially those who are related to them. Family ties are highly regarded in the Italian community and both sides of the family are accorded equal treatment. Traditionally, marriage was an arranged affair in the Italian culture though nowadays it is a free exercise. Until quite recently, divorce was forbidden because marriage was taken to be a life long engagement. It is important to note though most of the Italians marry, there is the custom of children remaining unmarried so that they can take care for the old members of the family (Nickles, 2001). As far as inheritance is concerned, both male and female members of the family are allowed to get equal inheritance.

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In the end, images of national character cannot be explained by information alone

The values and actions of the citizens help define their national image. Social experiences, social knowledge, and social stereotypes help determine each country's national character. Even though Italy has close ties to other European countries, it still possesses an identity all its own. Culture and tradition, rather than physical characteristics, give Italians their sense of individuality.

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Killinger, C. L. (2005). Culture and Customers of Italy. Westport: Greenwood Publishing group.

Nickles, G. (2001). Italy: The Culture. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company.

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