Since prehistoric times, North American Indians populated the territory of today’s USA as fishermen, hunters and gatherers as well as traders, farmers and ranchers. The natives known today as “First Nations” left only a few, but characteristic, remains from historical times. These include the Mississippi culture (from 700 AD) with Cahokia as the largest center and the multi-storey residential complexes of the Pueblo Indians in the southwest, some of which are still preserved. The cultural heritage of the Indians survived European colonization only in fragments in the form of handicrafts and festival cultures (Powwaw). However, it has been revived since the 1970s, supported by protest movements.
According to A2zdirectory, the European settlers and black slaves (slavery) brought their own cultural traditions with them to the “New World”. American art and architecture, American literature, and American music developed their own profile in the 19th century, and sometimes only at the beginning of the 20th century. The typically »American« was evident in the joy of experimentation, the imaginative transformation of European styles and the consistent appropriation of new technology. In the fast-growing cities, which were often systematically created as a “checkerboard pattern,” architects from the Chicago School built the first skyscrapers in steel-framed construction. Impulses from the Bauhaus, in turn, were further developed into the International Style. After the Second World War, the USA set global trends in architecture and, based on abstract expressionism, also in the fine arts.
In cultural life, the boundaries between “high art”, entertainment, mass culture and commerce became blurred. Private patronage, which also built up world-class museums, such as the collection of paintings in the Frick Collection (New York) and the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), cemented this trend. Examples of this are bestseller lists on the book market (from 1895), comics, the theaters of New York’s Broadway, musicals and, above all, film.
The literature mostly followed realistic forms of representation, sometimes socially critical (e.g. Mark Twain , U. Sinclair , N. Mailer ), sometimes symbolically charged (H. Melville ). Frequent topics were freedom and individualism (W. Whitman ), experiences of the frontier (JF Cooper ), but also the failure of the “American Dream” (FS Fitzgerald ), identity and self-discovery (J. D. Salinger ) as well as racism and emancipation, especially in the Afro-American Literature (W. E. B. Du Bois ) and women’s literature (T. Morrison ). In addition to the novel, writers preferred the short story. Major social issues and social grievances regularly found their way onto the theater stages. Popular forms of Afro-American music such as blues and spiritual emerged at the end of the 19th century into New Orleans jazz, from which further forms of jazz developed.
Hollywood was the center of the American film industry from the 1910s. The first stars were born in silent films. The big studios produced genres as diverse as westerns, screwball comedy and historical monumental films. W. Disney created a whole new aesthetic with animated films. Despite the cinema crisis from the 1950s due to competition from television, financially strong production companies from the USA are still setting the tone worldwide today. The legacy of MGM, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures passed to multimedia companies such as Disney and Comcast as well as streaming media such as Netflix. With regular programming since 1941, American television invented mass-market formats that were adopted and adapted around the world, such as news, entertainment shows, sitcoms, and television series.
Sport plays a big role in American society. It is not operated in associations, but in commercially run clubs as well as at colleges and universities. Large associations grant licenses for professional leagues to sports companies. The team sports basketball, baseball and American football are particularly popular. The New York and Boston marathons are international events. The next generation of athletics, also from other countries, find excellent training facilities at the universities. In addition, there are fashion and lifestyle sports from the USA, especially to increase individual fitness. Jogging and aerobics started.
Thanksgiving Day in the USA
No other holiday represents American culture like Thanksgiving Day. The origin of the festival can be traced back to the pilgrim fathers, where legends and reality are mixed here. After the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the east coast of America, they had sown the seeds they had brought from England, but had only brought in a poor harvest. Many of them died during the winter. So they asked the Indian tribe of the Wampanoag for help, which was also granted to them. After an abundant harvest in the autumn of 1621, the first thanksgiving was celebrated with the Indians to express gratitude: Thanksgiving. The governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, designated November 29th of each year as the day on which God should be thanked for the harvest. This is what the legend says.
The first national Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on December 18, 1777 by a decision of the Continental Congress. In 1789, George Washington officially proclaimed the feast day for the young United States on November 26th as a day devoted to “serving that glorious being, from whom all good comes and was, that is, and always will be”. As a result, however, the day fell into oblivion. Finally, in 1817, New York State declared the last Thursday in November a feast day, and several other states followed suit. As a national holiday, Thanksgiving Day was first made into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and set for the fourth Thursday in November. However, it was not until 1956 that all states had joined this date,
Today is Thanksgiving Day, the American family holiday, on which as many family members as possible get together. The festive meal traditionally consists of turkey with cranberry sauce, with sweet potatoes, corn and pumpkin pie.
The Native Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving Day since 1970 as the “National Day of Mourning” (National Day of Lamenting). To this end, they gather on Coles Hill near Plymouth Rock and commemorate their ancestors and their history.