Culture & Identity of Paraguay
Nearly every story of "conquest" ends with the victor taking over a people
and forcing them to accept their newly introduced language, culture, and lifestyle.
In Paraguay the story reads a bit differently as the two
cultures, that of the Spanish and the Guarani, somehow melted together; the Spanish
influence didn't necessarily take over all important cultural aspects of the
people and today many people refer to themselves as Guarani, speak that language,
and on independence day the people celebrate with pre-colonial foods reflecting
their Guarani heritage.
Paraguay was founded as somewhat of a backwater; not having
any access to the seas they were reliant on other countries for transportation and
trade. This location and setting forced the people to unite as one as they merged
various cultures, but it also created the rural lifestyle and culture that continues
in Paraguay today; nearly 40% of the people live outside the cities. This means
most jobs are still also found in rural areas as farming is a popular occupation
as is running a shop, such as one that sells food or provides a service.
All days, including work days, seem to be approached at a leisurely pace. For many
people the day generally begins with breakfast then work or school beginning at
about 8:30 or 9:00 am. This segment of the work day only lasts until about noon
when most people go home for lunch and perhaps a nap. Work generally starts back
up at about 3:00 pm and can last until 6:00 pm or later. The work days in
Paraguay tend to be shorter than in many other countries, including many
South American countries, but for the Paraguayans
life is about family, friends, and relaxation. Many occupations are also very seasonal,
including farming, which forces long hard hours during the summer months, then shorter
hours during their winter months. Few Paraguayans will complain about their lifestyle
and few would be willing to change it, despite the fact that their GDP per capita
is substantially lower than neighboring countries like Argentina,
Chile, and Brazil.