Arab American Culture
Like other ethnic minorities in the United States, Arab Americans try to preserve their culture and pass it on from one generation to another. Arab Americans also try to maintain contact with their extended family and members of their town of origin who may be dispersed throughout the world. Family and town reunions, community banquets, conventions and festivals all allow Arab Americans to preserve and celebrate the culture of their homelands and to keep ties with others back home.
For many Arab American immigrants and their descendents it is often difficult to find a balance between adapting to a new culture while retaining their traditional culture. Most Arab American immigrants retain some of their cultural identities, such as language, dress, food, beliefs and values, even after living in the United States for generations.
There are many cultural issues about adjusting to life in the United States that are controversial for Arab Americans. One important issue is gender roles, or the different roles of men and women and boys and girls in a family. For some Arab Americans, especially Muslims from rural areas, this may mean dressing modestly, little socializing with children of the opposite sex, not dating, and showing respect for elders.
Arab American families tend to have very close relationships. Extended families usually live near each other, spend a lot of time together and are intimately involved in each other’s lives. Sometimes Arab American parents arrange their child’s marriage to someone they feel is responsible and will be able to provide a good home for their child and grandchildren.
Throughout the year Arab Americans celebrate many religious and cultural holidays. Some of the religious holidays, like Christmas, are celebrated by most Americans. Others, such as Eid al-Fitr, are celebrated only by Muslims. Arab Americans also enjoy American holidays, like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July by eating both traditional Arab food and American food.