A Melting Pot
States of America is culturally diverse and is often referred to as a “melting
pot.” For many years now, immigrants have continued to come into the United
States chasing the idea of the American dream and a better life. People arrive
to America from all over the world. Immigrants have brought with them customs,
beliefs and cultures that they have shared as they assimilate into American
society. The phrase “melting pot” could be referring to the melting of cultures.
Many cultures have impacted, influenced and helped in the shaping of present day
American culture. There are many examples of the ethnic influences that have
contributed to what is now considered part of American culture. Some of these
examples are the food, the languages present in the US, and the things
Americans choose to celebrate. Culture itself is not motionless and frozen.
Culture has the ability to move and change as it needs to. It improves over
time. What was culturally normal 50, 60 and 70 years ago is most likely not normal
presently in American culture. Beliefs change as do people and influences.
The melting pot
phrase could also be referring to all of the “flavors” that each culture has brought
to American cuisine. Food in the US has changed as new recipes are developed
and new tastes are discovered. The United States loves food and has endless
options and available things to eat. A hungry person can go to a Japanese
restaurant for ramen, udon and sushi. They can go to an Italian restaurant for
pasta and soup. There are Mexican restaurants that serve tacos, burritos,
quesadillas and mariscos. There are also German bakeries and restaurants
serving beer, schnitzel, pretzels and weisswurst. There are Mediterranean
restaurants, Soul food restaurants and the list continues on.
English settled in America, they brought over many traditions and foods with
them. The Native Americans were good farmers and grew many crops. The Native
Americans and the English settlers began to interact and trade. Native
Americans helped the settlers survive by teaching them about farming and
introduced them to new foods. Potatoes, corn, peanuts and even chocolate were previously
unknown foods to the English settlers. These foods are presently very common in
the American diet.
Although the US
has a wide variety of culturally diverse food to choose from, there are foods that
are simply considered American. Some of the typical American foods are hamburgers,
hotdogs, fries, apple pie, peanut butter sandwiches and fried chicken. These
foods, surprisingly, originated elsewhere. Hamburgers originated in Hamburg,
Germany. Hotdogs came from Vienna, Austria and Frankfurt, Germany. Sauerkraut,
a favorite hotdog topping for many, and is also German. A polish man named Nathan
from “Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs,” made it popular to eat hotdogs with mustard and
ketchup. Although potatoes were introduced to the English settlers by Native
Americans, French fries originated in Belgium. Apple pie is considered the
ultimate American dessert. The recipe has changed and improved, but the
original recipe can be traced back to England. Fried chicken can be traced to
Scotland, and BBQ can be traced back to the Caribbean. Doughnuts, another
American dessert or snack, is actually a Dutch pastry. Although peanuts were
already in America, peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs and the
Incas, south of the USA. There is also a lot of fruit that originated
elsewhere, like the watermelon enjoyed by many Americans in the summer. Watermelon
is originated from Egypt, Africa. The mango is another fruit widely enjoyed in
America and can be traced back to southern Asia.
In the US,
Americans celebrate many national holidays and special recognized days. Amongst
the most celebrated are Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving,
Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Martin Luther King Day,
and Veterans Day. Other recognized days and holidays are Cinco de Mayo, St.
Patrick’s Day, Day of the Dead, Children’s Day, Kwanzaa, April Fool’s, Earth
Day, and Chinese New Year. There are also less known and less celebrated national
days like Pizza Day, Pie Day, Belly Laugh Day and Pirate Day. Santa Claus and the
Christmas tree that is widely accepted for the Christmas holidays came from the
German culture. The Easter bunny also originated from Germany. Cinco de Mayo is
a celebrated Mexican victory against the French. Day of the Dead is also a
Mexican holiday that has recently become more popularized in the US. St.
Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday. Chinese New Year originated in China. As
more cultures are accepted into American culture the reasons and holidays to
There are many
languages spoken in the United States. The most common spoken language is
English. In no specific order, the other most spoken languages in the United
States are Spanish, French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog. Although some
states do list English as an official language, contrary to popular belief, there is no
official language in the United States. Many American people also individually recognize
the English language as the only acceptable language to be spoken within the
United States. The demand for everyone living in the United States to be able
to speak English has been high, more so lately.
Early settlers in America came from England and
brought over the English language. The English language is derivation from the German
language. The English settlers borrowed words from Native American languages to
name places and new things they had found. There are many states and cities
named after Native American tribes named by the English settlers. Some examples
are Arizona, Alaska, Chicago, Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho.
It isn’t uncommon to see advertisements, commercials
and information in more languages than just English. Companies understand their
diverse customers and aim to be relatable resulting in more profit. Although
foreign languages are optional to take in schools in America, foreign languages
are not required for graduation. America is one of the few countries that do not
require a second language. It seems a bit odd considering how diverse the
country is. Everyone recognizes and accepts the diversity but not all are as willing
to embrace it.