Culture and Custom

Europe

The Culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures of Europe. Whether it be a question of West as opposed to East; Catholicism and Protestantism as opposed to Eastern Orthodoxy; Christianity as opposed to Islam; many have claimed to identify cultural faultlines across the continent.

Europe has been a cradle for many cultural innovations and movements, such as Humanism, that have consequently been spread across the globe. The Renaissance of classical ideas influenced the development of art and literature far beyond the confines of the continent.

Faultines

One of the major problems in defining the European culture, is where does Europe start and where does it end ? Most countries share common historical experiences, but several important faultlines appear. The first one is the dividing lands that were occupied at some point by the Roman Empire, thus dividing Europe along a line that goes through Hadrian’s Wall in the British Isles, along the Rhine and finally along the Danube. Another faultline is the Catholic-Orthodox divide caused by the Great Schism, which isolates Russia, Belarus, half of Ukraine (whether Uniate Ukraine is considered Orthodox or Catholic is a matter of debate) and Serbia.

Yet another faultline is the one that separates the lands once occupied by the Ottoman Empire and the ones that weren’t, which created the current Christian-Islam faultline, that separates Albania, Bosnia and Turkey. Also notable is the faultline that separates the parts of Europe that went through industrialization in the 19th century, including Northern Italy and . And finally, the most recent faultline is the infamous Iron Curtain. These faultlines are key to understanding the cultural similarities and differences in Europe.

They are also important for identifying what countries should be admitted into the European Union (such as in the case of Turkey or the 2004 separatist menace in Ukraine). Thus the question of “common culture” or “common values” is far more complex than it seems.