MELT: Migration in Europe and Local Tradition.

Local Tradition

Local tradition in our understanding encompasses all spheres of social and cultural life: daily life and habits, food, religion, music, dance, costumes, etc. Local traditions are usually based on a definition of “home”, and are generally linked to specific places, though it must be said that nomads too have local traditions, which may then rather be associated with a social group. There is no authorship to local traditions, they are passed down – often orally – from generation to generation in an educational process and thus help to raise awareness of collective (local) history. They help to build a sense of community and of belonging, and thus strengthen self-assertion and collective identities.

At the same time they contribute – to a greater or lesser extent – to a process of exclusion (“the others”). Local traditions hence oscillate between inclusion and exclusion, between openness and restriction, between the public and the private.

Local traditions are often based on unwritten rules. They tend to be the cause for conflict between the generations, mostly over the question of how much change is allowed. There is an ongoing struggle between the purist and the progressive interpretation of tradition. As carriers of collective identities, (local) traditions run the risk of being abused for political purposes.

Performance at the ProEtnica Festival in Sighişoara
by Hertha Pietsch-Zuber

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