Asian culture, though an extremely broad term, can be narrowed down into many distinct cultural heritages in the different regions in Asia. There is a multitude of differing ethnic groups, nationalities, and societies to explore throughout Asia and its sub-regions. These sub-regions include North, South, and Central Asia, East, West, and Southeast Asia. Asia is not a well-defined continent geographically speaking and there has been diminutive common history or unity for a large number of the Asian peoples and cultures.
Asian traditions are as diverse and unique as the people in Asia. Each country is infused with a variety of cultures and traditions, with major human migrations taking part throughout centuries of history. One thing is certain, many Asian traditions are outstanding, especially during festivities, holidays, and other celebrations.
Tea plays a major part in Asian culture. Malaysia, China, Japan, India—it doesn’t seem to matter where in Asia—tea is an integral part of life. Ceremonies, observances, cultivation and other forms of tea use are seen across Asian countries, especially in Turkey where the highest amount of tea is drunk per capita.
Music and dance are another important part of Asian culture. In countries like Kyrgyzstan, India, and Thailand (and most other Asian nations), traditional music and dance have both been used for centuries as a portal to recount historical mosaics. Music is often played by instruments specific to a region and accompanied by song and dance, with dancers acting out tales in elaborate and colorful costumes.
All around Asia, there are similarities and distinctions surrounding food. Dishes are created based on seasonal availability unlike in the West where much of our food is imported. With vastly differing climates in each sub-region there is a great range of food in each Asian region. Asians, as a general rule, tend to enjoy meals as more of an event than necessity. Meals are often appreciated with extended family and friends with the food as a central focal point. Whereas in the West this aspect of meals seems to be somewhat lost, in Asia, great importance is put on not only eating together but also sharing a variety of dishes rather than eating an individual one.
In West Asia, or the Middle East, popular foods include falafel, pita, hummus, and babghanoush. In Asia north, Russia’s common foods include caviar, beef stroganoff, and herring. China’s sushi and sashimi dishes dance on the world food stage. India’s meat and vegetable thalis have graced the lips of millions of travelers. In Southeast Asia, in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, one will find delicious, creamy curries, spicy stir-fries, and incredibly ripe, juicy, and rare fruits on the menu. And that just begins to touch on Asian food as a whole.
As the most populous continent in the world, there are a staggering number of religions across Asia. It is the birthplace of some of the most widespread religions in the world including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Sikhism, and Confucianism. Judaism, Sanamahism, and Zoroastranism (an ancient Iranian religion), also derive from Asia proper.
Buddhism is one of the most predominant religions in Asian culture. First established in northern India more than 2,000 years ago, the peaceful and meaningful way of life evolved from the teachings and life of Guatama Siddhartha, also called the Awakened One. Though there are different sects within the religion, most Buddhists celebrate Vesak, the Buddha’s birthday, in May with magnificent processions, ceremonies, and dress.