Europe is made up of an an extremely diverse range of cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. Each country has its own holidays, traditions, and history. Below, the cultural characteristics of Europe are divided up into a few different categories, each touching on the different areas that make up European culture....

Europe is divided into four traditional cultural areas: The Atlantic Fringe, The Plain, The Mediterranean Area, and The Alpine Area. Since the increase in modernization in the 20th century, these areas are not often referred to anymore. Though take note that the life-styles of the people in these areas of the past helped shape the way people in the same places live today. The types of crops produced has also not changed very much from past to present. Each area has its own unique food, customs, and ideas of what is important to daily life.

The Atlantic Fringe:
Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Albania, parts of Scandinavia, western Ireland, Britain, and Spain, northern Portugal, and northern and western France.

-The Atlantic Fringe is made up of all the regions along, and some inland, of the Atlantic Ocean.
-Cattle and fishing both are important in this area.
-Families tended to include three generations.

The Plain:
Lowland Britain, France, Germany, Poland, European Russia, Denmark, southern Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic).

-Wheat and cereal crops are the main agriculture of this area.
-Communal cooperation is very important to the people of villages in this area.

Mediterranean Area:
Southern Portugal, the plateau of Spain, southern Italy, most of Greece, and the islands of the Mediterranean Sea.

-The Mediterranean Area tended to have the very rich and the very poor living in it.
-The array of agriculture of this area included cereal crops, wheat, fishing, orchards, and vineyards. More vegetables and fruit were grown in the Mediterranean Area, than anywhere else in Europe.
-Family is a very important part to life in this area, and are often loyal and closely bonded.

Alpine Area:
upland and mountains of central Europe: Switzerland, Bavaria, southeast France, northern Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. The Alpine Area also includes most mountains extending form these countries.

-Rather than crops, people focused more on livestock in this area. The livestock is moved from place to place along with the seasons.
-Folk Art was and still remains to be a part of the culture of this area. The Alpine Area is home to the Cuckoo Clock, one of the many pieces of folk art made there.

Since the modernization of Europe, many more people now live in the cities.

Anderson, Robert T.. "Traditional Culture Areas." Encyclopedia Americana. vol.10, 2001 Ed.

Culture in Europe started to really develop in Ancient Greece. They came up with many of the systems and cultural ideas used by Europe and later adopted by the rest of the western world. Around 275 B.C. the Roman Empire was expanding and started to take over Greece. Even though they conquered them, Romans still kept many of Ancient Greece's ideas. A little while later around 200 A.D. the religion of Christianity came to Rome. It soon became Rome's official religion and spread throughout Europe. The influence of Christianity on Europe was huge, in the Middle Ages even started expansion and the Crusades. Till this day different branches of Christianity remain major religions in Europe.

"European Culture." Encyclopedia Americana. vol.10, 2001 Ed.


Since the spread of Christianity through Europe in early A.D., Christianity has remained to be Europe's main religion. Christianity was broken into different branches: Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic, and depending on the beliefs of different regions, people adopted them. Judaism is also practiced in Europe and the religion of Sunni' Islam is also practiced in Turkey and some southern parts of Europe.
Religious Majority of Religions in European Countries: Blue-Catholic Christianity; Orange-Orthodox Cristianity; Purple-Protestant Cristianity; Yellow-Sunni Islam or Judaism

Ethnicity and Language:

Europe has over 80 ethnic groups, the largest of which are Russian (90 million people), Germans (76 million people), French (63 million people), Italians (58 million people), English (45 million people), Spanish and Polish (42 million people each), and Ukrainian (41 million people).
Europe also has many many languages, hundreds of languages. The many of the main languages of Europe are of the "Indo-European" root family. Indo-European languages are Germanic, Celtic, Slavonic, Baltic, or Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, etc.). Other languages of Europe have roots like Arabic or Russian.

Map of Linguistic Groups of Europe

Holidays and Traditions:

Below we tell about a few of the holidays celebrated in Europe...
The Spanish celebrate many holidays throughout the year. Some of their well known/celebrated holidays include January 5 Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day). May 5, it celebrates the victory of Puebla during the French invasion of 1862. In the same month only 20 days later on the 25 of May Spanish speaking countries celebrate the anniversary of the May revolution of 1810. Primer Grito de Independencia, celebrating the first cry of independence in 1809 is celebrated on August 10. On September 13 the Commemoration of the Niños Héroes (child heroes) who fell while defending the castle of Chapultepec against European invaders in 1847. The 20 November Día de la

1 January
New Year's Day (Jour de l'an)
1 May
Labor Day (Fête du premier mai)
8 May
WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai)
14 July
Bastille Day (Fête nationale)
15 August
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)
1 November
All Saints Day (La Toussaint)
11 November
Armistice Day (Jour d'armistice)
25 December
Christmas Day (Noël)
26 December
2nd Day of Christmas (in Alsace and Lorraine only)
BELGIUM: Belgium celebrates many of the same holidays that we[Americans] do. although some of their holidays are only celebrates in certian countries in Europe, and then some of them are only celebrated in Belgium. They all have an interesting history about them and to explain in great detail would take far too long!
1 Jan New Year's Day.
13 Apr Easter Monday.
1 May Labour Day.
21 May Ascension Day.
1 Jun Whit Monday.
11 Jul * Flemish Community Holiday.
Christmas Parade in Helinski, Finland

21 Jul Independence Day.
15 Aug Assumption.
27 Sep * French Community Holiday.
1 Nov All Saints' Day.
11 Nov Armistice Day.
15 Nov German Community Holiday.
25 Dec Christmas Day.
26 Dec Boxing Day