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Culture Essay Example: Comparison of Romani and Haitian Cultures

6 pages
1462 words
Sewanee University of the South
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The Romani and Haitian cultures are different but share some similarities to some extent due to the fact that they share some Latin roots. However, each culture has its own uniqueness that specifically distinguishes that particular culture from the rest of the world. Culture is an element that identifies a group or population from the rest of the communities. A person without culture is considered without root or where he or she belongs. Therefore, culture is not only important in identifying the root of a person but it also defines the identity of an individual. Romania and Haitian share some Latin roots that make some of their cultures close but not the same. However, just like the other cultures each of the two populations has different cultures that define their identity. This paper is going to compare the two cultures, Haitian and Romania based on the following factors or elements of culture: language, religion, art, architecture, music, and beliefs.

Both Haitian and Romania are Christian countries even though they have some few differences in the specific religion that each population embraces. Haitians are just like the majority of the Latin Americans who practice Roman Catholic religion (Yoors 1987: 207). Even though there are few Protestants but the majority population follows the Roman Catholic Church. However, with the diversity and globalization, few Muslims and Hindus have found their way into the Haitian population. However, this does not affect the countrys religion which is Christianity. The Romanian on the other hand practice the Orthodox Christianity, which is also Latin associated. Yoors (1987: 207) explains that Romanians have been known to practice many religions, but following their influence from the Orthodox and Protestant Christians in Europe in the 1950s, they adopted the two religious practices as their own (Yoors 1987: 207). The main practiced and widely adopted Christianity practice is the Orthodox system. However, this does not lock out the possibilities of other religions such as Muslim and Hindu. Today, the world has become a global village and people can integrate easily, share, and exchange cultural practices and beliefs.

Haitian and Romania share some common practices in syncretism or the rites for the dead; however, they carry the rites differently. For the Haitian, the rites for the dead or vodou as it is referred by many scholars is not only a belief but a religion on it is own. Bay and Edna explain that Vodou practices in Haitian society have been integrated into the Catholicism system such that it is impossible to note (Bay & Harold, 2012: 4). The Haitian voudon is a mixture of Catholicism and the traditional beliefs which are mainly adopted by the African societies. Bay and Harold (2012: 4) argue that the Haitian voudon practices involve the use of words that have roots in the West African communities such as Yoruba in Nigeria; thus, showing that the practice is a blended religious practice from both the European Catholicism and the African traditional practices. The Romanians also have their way of transitioning the dead to the next spiritual world. Just like the Haitians, the Romanians also practice their traditional rites for the dead regardless of the formal religious practice that is widely known. This practice ensures that the dead also called mule do not return to disturb the peace of the living. The practice involves displaying the body of the dead at home instead of the funeral parlor. Sometimes, the dead are given send off with gifts and treasures which are placed beside the casket to appease them so that they do not return as ghosts or mule. As Leeson (2013: 274) further explains, the Gypsies, one of the ethnoreligious groups in Romania, believe that the defilement of the supernatural is not only dangerous but physically contagious. That is why they take care of the dead and ensure that their spirits do not come back to haunt the living.

The socio-economic life of the Haitians is also common because the majority of the population is poor in both cultures. A few section of the populations benefited from the communist system, but the vast majority are left to struggle and languish in poverty. Haiti is considered to be the poorest country with the large population living in poverty. The houses are generally wooden structures that contain two rooms. Since work is hard and providing for the whole family may be difficult, the whole family is expected to contribute. The same is applied in Romania in which they engage in inter0familia, vista, and natsia economic cooperation where they come together to share resources (Leeson 2013: 278). Due to the high rate of poverty in the two cultures, the majority of the population is laborers.

Both Haitian and Romania have their ways of constructing music that forms their cultural identity. In this respect, the global songs are not considered; instead, the traditional songs that help determine the cultural identity of the population is used. For the Haitians, music involves a combination of a wide range of influences from different groups. The Haitian music has its influence from the many groups that settled in the Caribbean island. Therefore, it reflects different cultures such as French, African, and Spanish. It also involves other influences from other groups that inhabited the island of Hispaniola. However, the music derived from Vodou forms the traditional identity that can be used to determine the Haitian culture (Tann 2012: 12). The Haitians also consider dancing vital part of their life, especially during the Vodou ceremonial events. Dancing is also considered a social practice that is practiced in other social areas such as the church and informal parties. Storytelling is also considered an important part of the Haitian life and culture which is mainly influenced by the rich tradition associated with the West African societies. Even though the official language of the Haitian is French, but the majority of the population uses their creole which forms part of their culture. Many traditional fables and stories are preserved through publication in Creole. These stories tell the stories of the early events such as creation and voudon spirits (Bay & Harold 2012: 4). Therefore, they not only form part of the Haitian culture but their life as a whole. For the Romanians, folk music is the traditional practice that has been used to identify their culture. The Romanian folk music has been preserved for centuries and it is widely used on different occasions including the religious functions and informal parties like marriage ceremonies. Dancing and performance are also considered an important part of the Romanian life in which music must be accompanied by.

The cousins of the Haitian are highly influenced by the French traditions which form the largest part of their food. Even though the French traditions influence their foods, they also include some elements of the Caribbean location. Unlike the other populations in the Caribbean island, the Haitian does not have Spanish influence in their flavor. Food is not only important for the Haitians but it is also vital part of the religious and status-symbol in their culture. The Romania cuisine comprises of the traditional foods and flavors that were held important during the Roman times. Until today, Romania still upholds the Romanian placinta important and part of their common meals (Davies 1998: 203). The Romanian main meat is pork even though the other types of meat are also consumed. As Leeson (2013: 9) explains, the Gypsies culture requires that when a woman is preparing food she must wear aprons. This is believed to protect them from polluting the food with their skirts. However, a menstruating woman is not supposed to prepare food because her polluting power is considered so strong (Leeson 2013: 10). For the Gypsies, these rules are contained in Romaniya which everyone is expected to abide by.

In conclusion, this paper has compared the cultures of the Romanian and Haitians. The paper has focused on the cultural elements such as religion, socioeconomic lifestyles, beliefs, rites for the dead, cousins, and music. These are important aspects of defining an individuals or a groups culture. Even though both Haitian and Romanians have almost similar cultures, but they have an individual uniqueness that only specifies and defines the culture of each particular group. From the above discussion, it is clear that each group has its culture and beliefs which form their identity irrespective of where they go. From the above-discussed practices and many others that have not been mentioned in this paper, both Haitian and Romanian can identify themselves as a particular population or group.



Bay, Edna G., and Harold Courlander. 2012. "Questioning Syncretism: Vodou in Haiti and Roman Catholicism in Benin."

Davies, Alan. I. 1998. "The Secret of Fast Food in Romania." Contemporary Review 273: 203-204.

Leeson, Peter T. 2013. "Gypsy law." Public Choice 155.3-4: 273-292.

Tann, Mambo Chita. 2012. Haitian Vodou: An Introduction to Haiti's Indigenous Spiritual Tradition. Llewellyn Worldwide.

Yoors, Jan.1987. The Gypsies. Waveland Press, 1987.


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