Amazing Cultural Insights About Our Favourite Holiday Destinations

Amazing cultural insights about our favourite holiday destinations

Knowing the history of a country you’re planning to visit will enrich your experience greatly and help you understand the locals even better. Instead of being confused about why a non-indigenous language is so common, or why certain customs are observed, you will be able to enlighten the people you’re travelling with and embrace the unique, local culture.

With this in mind, below are four of our favourite holiday destinations from around the world with fascinating cultural origins:

1. Morocco 

Morocco is an incredibly popular holiday destination in northern Africa. What makes it such as a great place to visit is a mix of rich culture, great weather and beautiful architecture. The food is also incredible in Morocco, and the market in Marrakech is one of the most famous street markets in the world.

One of the most interesting things about Morocco is the number of languages that are spoken there. With there being many historical influences on the country, nine indigenous languages are still in use, including Moroccan Arabic, Standard Arabic, Tachelhit, Spanish, Moroccan Sign Language, Hassaniyya Arabic, Central Atlas Tamazight, Tarifit and Judeo-Moroccan Arabic.

For those who are more observant, you might have noticed there is one glaring omission from that list – French. While French is still an extremely common language in Morocco, it is not considered to be indigenous to the country. Rather, its come in as a result of the heavy French influence in Morocco from 1912-1956.

2. Tenerife 

Part of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a favourite holiday destination for many people around the world. Other than the great weather and nightlife on the island, a big part of its appeal is the unique mix of African and Spanish culture.

The reason for the African influence in Tenerife is due to a northwestern African Berber tribe, the Guanches, originally settling there. There are many aspects of life in Tenerife that are very similar to African culture, especially the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife- the bright colours, extravagant costumes and tribal drumbeats are all heavily influenced by traditional African village ceremonies.

Whilst Tenerife has its origins rooted in Africa, from the 15th century onwards, Spanish culture is the most prevalent on the island. You can find the biggest influence of mainland Spain in the cuisine and daily routines on Tenerife. Whilst Canarian food has its own unique flavours, Spain’s influence is seen with small, tapas-like dishes consisting of seafood and stewed meats that are very popular. Residents in Tenerife also have traditional Spanish siestas each day.

3. Canada 

Whilst it might not appeal to the sun-seekers, Canada has a lot to offer as a holiday destination. With breathtaking scenery, great food and some of the best locations to ski in the world, it’s a great choice for people who are looking for adventure and something far from the norm.

One of the things that people often wonder about when they visit Canada is the heavy French influence. Around 30% of Canadians speak French as their first language, with the majority of French speakers living in Quebec. The reason that French became the official language of Quebec is because the French first colonized the area in the 17th Century.

English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada today. Both English and French have equal status, and are recognized by the Canadian government. It’s common to see signs and instructions in both languages throughout the country.

4. Mexico 

If your idea of a great holiday destination is one that provides rich culture, adventure, and great food, then Mexico is the perfect choice. There are few countries in the world that offer as many cultural experiences as Mexico. This country alone has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any of the other countries in North or South America, including the United States.

What makes Mexico such a culturally fascinating place is the sheer number of languages spoken. Whilst Spanish is viewed as the default language in Mexico, there are 68 recognized indigenous languages spoken in the country as well. The reason why Spanish become the most popular language in Mexico began when Spanish colonists came to the country in the 16th century. From the 18th century onwards, there were numerous decrees that ordered the Hispanicisation of indigenous regions of Mexico, and as a result the colonisers ceased learning indigenous languages.

Although Spanish is the most popular language in Mexico today, indigenous languages are still spoken by around six million citizens, the most popular of these being the Nahuatl language.

The best part of travelling is discovering what makes the world around you continue to be as unique as it once was.

What surprising cultural origins have you encountered while on the road? Let us know in the comments below! 

Images via Creative Commons: Moroccan MosqueSpanish PrawnsCanadian licence plate

Megan Snider

Megan is a freelance journalist, with a degree in public relations and journalism from Ball State University in Indiana. She considers herself to know all of the best jokes, which she proudly learned from her father. When she has a spare moment of time (which is rare) she enjoys reading any book she can find, watching American football on Sundays, and drinking a lovely glass of red wine.

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