ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Heritage?

Updated on February 5, 2016

I recently attended an Elementary school Heritage event and it got me thinking about what heritage really means. There were wonderful displays of food, clothing, art and aspects of daily life in a variety of countries. My booth was based on the country Wales in the United Kingdom and I included food, celebrations, traditions, clothing and photos of the welsh landscape. Did the things I chose to share about my heritage reflect the culture of the country or just those things that are important to me as an individual? What is the difference between heritage and culture and do they go hand in hand? Does it make us who we are, can we pick and choose what becomes heritage? Is it always changing?

Stonehenge - UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UK

Stonehenge, one of 28 World Heritiage sites in the UK
Stonehenge, one of 28 World Heritiage sites in the UK | Source

Booth for Wales


Dictionary Definition

The Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of Heritage is

1: property that descends to an heir

2a : something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance

b : tradition

3: something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth : birthright <the nation's heritage of tolerance>

What is Heritage?

When questioned about their heritage many people think about where they come from, their family came from and their links with a country or location. In fact the dictionary definition of heritage refers to the items, titles and property inherited from family.

Modern communities are often made up of people from a wide range of nationalities, religions and cultures and they bring with them traditions, food and customs that they value and wish to preserve. Dr Rodney Harrison writing for the Open University states that 'objects of heritage are things we pay attention to because they are meaningful', they shape ideas about who we are. He goes on to define heritage into two groups - objects such as artifacts, buildings, sites and landscapes and practices which include language, music and community celebrations. He also states that heritage is 'constantly changing in the light of the present as we look to the past to imagine the future. What individuals and communities consider important to preserve and practice such as customs, food and song, create a shared experience, helping to form a personal identity.'

The South African History Online website explains that a persons heritage is made up of the practices and traditions that are passed on from parent to child, from their community and place they were raised. It can be divided into national heritage, the traditions of birth country and personal heritage things that come from our family and environment.

Why is it Important?

A persons heritage is part of who they are, what they believe and how they behave. It can be seen as part of ones basic needs, to have a sense of identity and self expression. When identifying with a particular heritage or culture, an individual is linked to a way of thinking and living, is part of that community.

The novelist, playwright and critic Gao Xingjian is quoted as saying "culture is not a luxury but a necessity".

The preservation of heritage is also a key factor in maintaining a sense of community. People work together to preserve their environment and make it tourist friendly for visitors.

Heritage makes us who we are and gives us a sense of belonging. This is illustrated in the desire of the people of Wales to preserve the welsh language. For many Welsh people the language is an important part of their identity. Parts of the culture are strongly connected to the language, road signs are bilingual, the language is taught in schools and a television station is broadcast in welsh. Traditions based around the language such as the Eisteddford are held regularly.

Bilingual road marking in Wales

Road signs and markings are bilingual in Wales
Road signs and markings are bilingual in Wales | Source

Headquarters of S4C, the Welsh Language Channel

Headquarters in Cardiff of the Welsh language television channel
Headquarters in Cardiff of the Welsh language television channel | Source

What is Culture?

Culture refers to the daily living, attitudes, traditions, manners, language, morality and systems of belief. The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 2002) described culture as 'the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems and beliefs.'

Culture is learnt from family, school, religious teachings, the government and media. Culture is different to heritage in the way that it is ever changing. Heritage is what we inherit from the past, whether it is objects for customs. Culture is constantly changing. In a multicultural word, families and communities are always evolving, changing, keeping traditions, adopting others and absorbing them into their daily lives and customs. An example of this in the Welsh culture is the custom of Sunday lunch. Traditionally Sunday was a day of rest, a family day and for many a religious day. Most shops and businesses were closed for the day. At midday a large meal was served with roasted meat, vegetables and gravy. With changes in retail practices many shops are open requiring workers. A Sunday dinner is a time consuming meal, from the cooking to the cleaning up, so with busier lives, shopping opportunities and employment it has become less of a custom for many.

Traditional Sunday Dinner in the UK

Traditional Sunday Lunch
Traditional Sunday Lunch | Source


The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation is a branch of the United Nations who's aim is to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and national heritage around the world. There are currently 1007 properties around the world on the list. The properties need to meet a set criteria be be included on the list.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage can be divided into 2 aspects, tangible and intangible. Tangible aspects include landscape, artifacts and buildings, Intangible includes oral history, cuisine, clothing, traditional skills, values, traditions and religious ceremonies.

Persepolis, Iran World Heritage Site


The Financial Implications of Heritage.

Preserving buildings and customs of heritage takes a lot of money and management. To ensure this is possible heritage sites often become tourist areas, attracting visitors from all over the world. The sites need to be maintained, ensuring jobs for the community and money for local businesses. The site become important for the ecomony of the community and adds to the culture of the location.

Heritage and culture go hand in hand, one is not able to exist without the other. The things, ideas and values that we inherit help to shape the culture and way of life we choose to live. Families pass on customs they value and adapt them to fit with the way they chose to live. Culture is influenced by many factors as ideas of what is of value changes and evolves. Heritage also changes as ideas about what is important to preserve changes with modern technology and preservation skills.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)