Not everyone feels a connection with their cultural heritage, but many people do. What is it about cultural heritage that draws these people to it? Some may think traditions are archaic and no longer relevant, and that they are unnecessary during these modern times. Perhaps for some, they aren’t; but for others, exploring cultural heritage offers a robust variety of benefits.
In large cities especially, it can be easy to feel lost and alone among so many other cultures and backgrounds. New York City, for example, is a huge melting pot of people from all over the country and the world. There are large communities based around certain cultural heritages, including Irish, Italian, Asian, and others.
Cultural heritage is made up of many things large and small. We can see it in the buildings, townscapes, and even in archaeological remains. Culture can be perceived through natural sources as well: the agriculture and landscapes associated with it. It is preserved through books, artifacts, objects, pictures, photographs, art, and oral tradition. Cultural heritage is in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the religions we follow, and the skills we learn. Sometimes we can touch and see what makes up a culture; other times it is intangible.
The Heritage Cycle from Simon Thurley
helps explain the process of finding and incorporating culture into our lives, if we wish to do so. It begins with understanding the culture. Only then may we begin to value it. From there, we can learn to care for a culture and eventually enjoy it. With more enjoyment, we will want to learn and understand more—and so the circle goes.