England has contributed in huge amounts to the culture of both Britain and the world as a whole. What was once a homogenous country has now expanded and grown enough to accept a diverse group from all around the world as their own, thus experiencing both a cultural and social diversification.
During earlier times, English life and customs differed greatly between those who lived in the city and the countryside, the urban and the rural. This divide, however, is fast disappearing, with many of the city folk choosing to lead quieter lives in the countryside and thus owning homes there. Another fact characteristic of such societal divide was the caste system that divided the affluent and the poor, the city and country folk, a result of which discrimination existed in terms of many opportunities. This too is now changing. For instance, the English radio that for the longest time accepted only ‘proper’ English language is now accepting accepts from over the country.
To better understand and explore England’s culture we need to look at it many aspects including its festivals, Literature, Paintings, Theatre, and Music.
Today many English holidays like Christmas, are celebrated throughout the world, though perhaps not in as large a scale. Remembrance Day, celebrated on November 1st honors those soldiers that laid down their lives for the First World War, while Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th commemorates the 1605 conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Saint George’s day is another festival that is celebrated with on April 23rd to honor England’s Patron Saint. While celebrated in full gusto all over Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, it is celebrated in a much lower scale in England and is perhaps one of the factors that differentiate ‘Britishness’ from ‘Englishness’
English literature took the world by storm and even today is studied in vivid details by literature lovers from every nook and corner. William Shakespeare, Chaucer, John Milton, John Keats, John Donne, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling etc. are just a few of the many celebrated founding fathers of English Literature. Today all literature students read and analyze their work, along with the many eras and periods of Literature including the Renaissance, the Romantic Era, The Elizabethan Era and more.
Paintings and art in England came about under the auspices of the Church, with pictorial illustrations of the Gospel manuscripts. It is, however; when the Flemish Baroque painters were appointed in the court by Charles I that painting well dominated English culture.
England is one of the biggest contributors to world theatre with its famous theatre institutions like the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre etc. playing a huge role in this. Many famous actors of the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Peter Sellers etc. are products of English Theatre.
Works of many old English composers like Thomas Tallis, William Byrd etc. are still performed in all parts of the world. Many English bands also grew quickly in popularity and are today revered in the music industry. Some of them include the iconic Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin etc.
Today the order and insularity of English life have been overshadowed by a familiarity with all things exotic, absorbed from all parts of the world. England too as observed here has been culturally influencing every other country, with the English language, art, movies etc. being universally beloved.