The foundation of European culture was laid by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, stabilized by Christianity, reformed and modernised by the Fifteenth Century Renaissance and Reformation and globalized by the European Empires of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Thus the European Culture developed into a very complex phenomenon of wider range of philosophy, Christian and secular humanism, rational way of life and logical thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment,naturalism, romanticism, scientism, democracy and socialism. Because of its global connection, the European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt and ultimately influence other trends of culture.As a matter of fact, therefore, from the middle of the nineteenth century with the expansion of European education and the spread of Christianity, European culture and way of life, to a great extent, turned to be 'global culture', if anything has to be so named.(Vide. Sailen Debnath, 'Secularism: Western and Indian', Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi).
The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Islam; Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be.
Most of the many languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. Another major family is the Finno-Ugric. The Turkic family also has several European members. The North and South Caucasian families are important in the southeastern extremity of geographical Europe. Basque is a language isolate and Maltese is the only national language in Europe, but not the only language, that is Semitic.
The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid 19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor. Developments in Western painting historically parallel those in Eastern painting, in general a few centuries later. African art, Islamic art, Indian art, Chinese art, and Japanese art each had significant influence on Western art, and, eventually, vice-versa.
The earliest European sculpture to date portrays a female form, and has been estimated at dating from 35,000 years ago. See Classical sculpture, Ancient Greek sculpture, Gothic art, Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Modernism, Postminimalism, found art, Postmodern art, Conceptual art.
Neolithic architecture : Born in the Levant, Neolithic architecture spread to Europe. The Mediterranean neolithic cultures of Malta worshiped in megalithic temples. In Europe, long houses built from wattle and daub were constructed. Elaborate tombs for the dead were also built. These tombs are particularly numerous in Ireland, where there are many thousand still in existence. Neolithic people in the British Isles built long barrows and chamber tombs for their dead and causewayed camps, henges flint mines and cursus monuments., Architecture of ancient Greece, Roman architecture, Medieval architecture, Renaissance architecture, Baroque architecture, Beaux-Arts architecture, Expressionist architecture, Deconstructivism.
Europe is the birthplace of some of the most prominent or popular fiction writers of all time : Homer, Dante Alighieri, Francois Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, Voltaire, Leo Tolstoy, Beatrix Potter, Franz Kafka, Agatha Christie, Henrik Ibsen, J. R. R. Tolkien, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Knut Hamsun, George Orwell, Albert Camus, Roald Dahl, Anne Frank, Umberto Eco, Terry Pratchett, Patrick Süskind, J. K. Rowling, Sigrid Undset...
In 1897, Georges Méliès established the first cinema studio on a rooftop property in Montreuil, near Paris. Some notable European film movements include German Expressionism, Italian neorealism, French New Wave, Polish Film School, New German Cinema, Portuguese Cinema Novo, Czechoslovak New Wave, Dogme 95, New French Extremity, and Romanian New Wave. The cinema of Europe has its own awards, the European Film Awards. Main festivals : Cannes Film Festival (France), Berlin International Film Festival (Germany). The Venice Film Festival (Italy) or Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, is the oldest film festival in the world.
European philosophy is a predominant strand of philosophy globally, and is central to philosophical enquiry in America and most other parts of the world which have fallen under its influence. Christian thought is a huge influence on many fields of European philosophy (as European philosophy has been on Christian thought too), sometimes as a reaction; the Greek schools of philosophy in antiquity provide the basis of philosophical discourse that extends to today.
Perhaps one of the most important single philosophical periods since the classical era were the Renaissance, the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment. There are many disputes as to its value and even its timescale. What is indisputable is that the tenets of reason and rational discourse owe much to René Descartes, John Locke and others working at the time.
Other important European philosophical strands include: Analytic philosophy, Calvinism, Christian Democracy, Communism, Conservatism, Deconstructionism, Empiricism, Epicureanism, Existentialism, Fascism, Humanism, Idealism, Liberalism, Logical positivism, Marxism, Materialism, Monarchism, Nationalism, Perspectivism, Platonism, Positivism, Postmodernism, Rationalism, Romanticism, Scepticism, Scholasticism, Social Democracy, Socialism, Stoicism, Structuralism, Thomism, Utilitarianism, Spenglerism
Christianity has been the dominant feature in shaping up European culture for at least the last 1700 years. Modern philosophical thought has very much been influenced by Christian philosophers such as St Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus.
Millions of Europeans profess no religion or are atheist or agnostic. The largest non-confessional populations (as a percentage) are found in Sweden, the Czech Republic and France although most former communist countries have significant non-confessional populations. Attendance at church is a minority activity in most Western European countries - as an example, the Church of England attracts around 1 million worshippers on a Sunday, which corresponds to about 2% of the population of England.
The most popular religions of Europe are the following:
Other minor religions exist in Europe, some brought by migrants, including:
A number of countries in Europe have official religions, including Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Vatican City (Catholic); and Greece (Eastern Orthodox), Denmark, Iceland and Norway (Lutheran). In Switzerland, some cantons are officially Catholic, others Reformed Protestant. Some Swiss villages even have their religion as well as the village name written on the signs at their entrances. In Bulgaria, an article in the constitution defines Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the country's "traditional religion".
Georgia has no established church, but the Georgian Orthodox Church enjoys "de facto" privileged status. In Finland, both Finnish Orthodox Church and Lutheran church are official. Russia recognises Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism as all "traditional" (with three states, Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva, officially Buddhist). England, a country in the UK, has Anglicanism as its official religion.
The cuisines of Western countries are diverse by themselves, although there are common characteristics that distinguishes Western cooking from cuisines of Asian countries and others. Compared with traditional cooking of Asian countries, for example, meat is more prominent and substantial in serving-size. Steak in particular is a common dish across the West. Similarly to some Asian cuisines, Western cuisines also put substantial emphasis on sauces as condiments, seasonings, or accompaniments (in part due to the difficulty of seasonings penetrating the often larger pieces of meat used in Western cooking). Many dairy products are utilized in the cooking process, except in nouvelle cuisine. Wheat-flour bread has long been the most common sources of starch in this cuisine, along with pasta, dumplings and pastries, although the potato has become a major starch plant in the diet of Europeans and their diaspora since the European colonization of the Americas.
The earliest definite examples of needles originate from the Solutrean culture, which existed in France from 19,000 BC to 15,000 BC. The earliest dyed flax fibers have been found in a cave the Republic of Georgia and date back to 36,000 BP. see Clothing in ancient Rome, 1100-1200 in fashion, 1200-1300 in fashion, 1300-1400 in fashion, 1400-1500 in fashion, 1500-1550 in fashion, 1550-1600 in fashion, 1600-1650 in fashion, 1650-1700 in fashion, Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.
Europe's influence on sport is enormous. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a modern sport, apart from basketball and related sports, that does not have its origins in Europe. European sports include:
In addition, Europe has numerous national or regional sports which do not command a large international following outside of emigrant groups. These include:
Some sporting organisations hold European Championships.
Some sport competitions feature a European team gathering athletes from different European countries. These teams uses the European flag as an emblem. The most famous of these competitions is the Ryder Cup in golf.
Each year since 1985 one or more cities across Europe are chosen as European Capital of Culture.