Example Of Food, Culture And Religion Essay
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Food is a very important element in religions worldwide. All religions have special relationships with foods that they enjoy to celebrate on holidays and holy days and foods that they avoid as dietary practice. Feasts and fasts are also important parts of religious observation. Food is a primary aspect of all religions and cultures.
In the Christian faiths food is an essential part of religious services. The consumption of bread and wine as a symbol of Christ’s body and blood is a part of Roman Catholic and Orthodox mass. Other Christian denominations partake of this practice less often such as Baptists who partake of “The Lord’s Meal” 3 or four times a year. The consumption of the bread and wine refers to the Last Supper as described in the New Testament in which Jesus shares bread and wine with his disciples (“Five Views of the Eucharist”).
Holy days for Christians such as Easter and Christmas involve a large and festive meal after attending church services. The choice of food depends upon the geographic region. Pork, turkey or a roast are common to the holiday table in most Christian faiths (Kittler, Sucher and Nelms 80-81).
Christians of all denominations observe and practice fasting on certain holy days throughout the year. It has always been traditional for Catholics to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Baptists and other Christian denominations often will fast entirely from food for a day or two, only eating a small meal in the evening for a variety of reasons. Orthodox Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and avoid meat, some seafood and dairy products. Fasting for all of the Christian faiths represents self-control and discipline (Diaz).
Like Christians, there are different styles of Judaism: Orthodox and Liberal. Liberal Jews do not follow Jewish principles as strictly as Orthodox Jews. Keeping “kosher” is one of the practices that Liberal Jews do not adhere to as their Orthodox brethren. Keeping kosher is the practice of observing strict preparation, serving and eating of food. Dairy products and meat products are not consumed at the same meal. Animals are slaughtered according to strict practices as well (“Religious Dietary Guidelines and Restrictions”).
Some Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year and a celebratory feast is prepared, the feast will adhere to kosher practices. Yom Kippur which a day of reflection and atonement is observed through fasting throughout the day. Passover for the Jewish faith is also a celebration of the release of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The meal is both a time to eat but also to pray. This meal is called the Seder. A plate of foods that are very symbolic is eaten. On the plate one may find radishes which symbolize the bitterness of the slavery and matzo, or unleavened bread which the Jews baked quickly to take on their flight from Egypt (“Food, Culture and Religion”).
Foods in Islam are divided into two categories. Haram are foods that cannot be consumed such as pork and alcohol. Halal are foods that may be eaten. Islam also implements strict guidelines for the slaughter of animals (Diaz). Fasting is also an important part of the Islam faith. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast all day and eat limited foods in the evening for sustenance.
Religious holiday celebrations such as Eid al-Fitr which celebrates the breaking of the fasting during Ramadan. The kinds of foods enjoyed for this feast day depends upon the geographic location and traditional foods of the region. In Egypt, fish is the traditional meal, in Iraq it is lamb and in Malaysia, beef.
The interdependence of life is a key belief in Hinduism. There is a relationship between all life forms on Earth and they should be treated with respect. Because of this belief the majority of Hindus are vegetarians. Beef is strictly prohibited and the level or style of vegetarianism varies. Brahmans are the strictest of Hindus and also practice strict food handling practices. Fasting is also a popular practice among Hindus. Fasting is observed on special days in honor of the Hindu gods. There are also many special celebrations that include feats and celebration, these depend on the region and type of Hinduism practiced (Diaz).
Buddhists are also strict vegetarians. Theravada Buddhists are primarily found in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand. Mahayana Buddhists are located throughout Korea and China. The primary difference in their approach to food is that Theravada monks are dependent upon other people to provide them with food and donations. They are allowed to eat whatever is provided for them, even if it is meat. Mahayana Buddhists are required to remain vegetarian because they raise their own food.
“Buddhist Dietary Customs.” Clove Garden, n.d. Web 7 Apr. 2015.
“Five Views of the Eucharist.” Christianity in View, n.d. Web 7 Apr. 2015
“Food, Culture and Religion.” Better Health Channel. State of Victoria, n.d. Web 8 Apr. 2015.
Garduno Diaz, Sara. “Religion and Food.” University of Leeds, n.d. Web 8 Apr. 2015
Goyan Kittler, Pamela, Sucher, Kathryn, Nahikian Nelms, Marcia. Food and Culture. Belmont,
CA: Wadsworth Cenage Learning, 2012. Print.
Hernandez, Nadia. “Food Culture and Religion.” Food Enquirer, n.d. Web 8 Apr 2015
“Religious Dietary Guidelines and Restrictions.” Chewfo, n.d. Web 8 Apr. 2015
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