The people of Aruba come primarily from European, African, and Latin American countries and the culture of the island reflects these varied backgrounds. The language, food, religion, and celebrations on Aruba are composed of a healthy mix of these countries. Aruba is closely tied to Holland because of its long occupation and present partnership in the Netherlands kingdom. The official language is Dutch, which is seen on the street signs, official documents, and many local newspapers. However, many aspects of Aruba’s culture reveal strong influences of contributing cultures, such as the common language Papiamento.
Papiamento dates back to the sixteenth century, as a means for African slaves to communicate with their owners. Papiamento reflects the mentality and culture of the many peoples who have inhabited the region, including the Arawak and Carib Indians, African slaves, South American traders, Spanish conquers, Dutch merchants, Portuguese missionaries, and French and English settlers. While grammar is basic, many non-Arubans find its syntax and intonation challenging. Much of Papiamento has been handed down verbally from generation to generation. Its proverbs contain a simply stated wealth of philosophy and insight. Through humor and metaphor, utilizing food, animals, and objects from everyday life, Papiamento lends universal guidance and wisdom. Some popular phrases are “Bon Dia” for good morning and “Masha Danki” for thank you.
Aruban food is simple in preparation and taste. Mostly grilled without a lot of grease or spice, chicken, fish and vegetables are often accompanied by local vegetables such as corn, broccoli, potatoes or rice. Johnnycakes are fried biscuits prepared with slat fish from Canada and Norway, which are popular in Aruba. Also popular are stews of beef, chicken, and goat, with ingredients of a cucumber called concomber and rice with black beans. Stuffed cheese, called keeshi yena, is a traditional Aruban dish dating back to the days...
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