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Frankly, it's impossible to say that there is "a" European culture, especially without making reference to the time period we're talking about. There isn't even a precise consensus on the definition of what and where Europe is. For this and other reasons, the idea of a European culture is often conflated with the term "Western" although this has some problems of its own, and includes cultures located nowhere near geographical Europe.
However, if we were to refer to EU member countries and their cultures as "European" culture, we can identify a few common features, and some pros and cons.
- Many of these countries were formerly imperial monarchies that have evolved into some form of democracy, occasionally retaining their royal head of state as a relatively powerless diplomatic.
- The majority of them had a predominately Christian history, leading to similar holidays and holiday practices.
- The majority of them were either Roman colonies or directly felt Roman influences, leading to similar languages and military practices.
- A number of them participated heavily in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, which largely developed major modern concepts of art and science.
- European countries have developed some of the world's most popular sports and built some of the most advanced technology, such as CERN.
European culture is driven by many objectively good ideals, such as individual freedom, charity, and literacy, handed down from and developed upon those developed by the Greeks, who influenced several other world cultures as well. European culture is inextricable from the advancements in technology and quality of life that it has produced; when transplanted elsewhere, the results are rarely the same. It is also worth acknowledging that European culture is dominant in many aspects of world culture, and to question why and how this came to be.
Today, European culture means different things to different people. Americans might think of it as old, stodgy and antiquated, while others might see it as excessively liberal and self-destructive. The downside to this is that, without any overarching clear concept of what European culture is, and is not, good ideas become linked with bad ones, and aspects of culture are condemned by association rather than any true fault.
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