Baltic Cultures

Baltic Cultures

Larry Purnell, PhD, RN, FAAN

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

1

Baltic Overview/Heritage

People of Baltic descent come from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The countries of origin of these ethnic groups are sometimes referred to as the Baltics or the Baltic countries because each of them is located in Europe on the Baltic Sea.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

Historical, cultural, religious, and language differences prevent the group from being one cultural entity.

These countries represent three distinct ethnic groups and are treated as such.

The Estonians are a Finno-Ugric people whose language is related to Finnish.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) forcibly annexed Estonia in 1949 and maintained control until 1991 when Estonia regained its independence.

Latvia, situated between Estonia and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, was independent from 1918 to 1940 when it was forcibly annexed by the USSR.

Latvia regained its independence in 1991.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

Russians make up 29 percent of the population of Latvia; the remainder is made up of Byelorussians, Ukrainians, and Poles.

Most ethnic Latvians speak a Baltic language related to Lithuanian.

Lithuania was an independent country from 1918 to 1940 when the USSR forcibly annexed it.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

In 1990, Lithuania re-declared its independence from Soviet rule.

For Lithuania, 83.5 percent are Lithuanians, 6.3 percent are Russians, 6.7 percent are Poles, and 3.7 percent other.

Lithuanian is a Baltic language related to Latvian.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

The Baltic countries today are democratic, growing economically, and are successful compared with many other former Soviet Union countries where poverty and dictatorship have been predominant.

In 1940, the three Baltic countries lost their independent status to Germany and then to the USSR in 1941.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

During this time, hundreds of thousands of Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians were deported in cattle cars to Soviet prison camps in Siberia.

Fearing death or deportation by the communist regime, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians fled to the West by any means possible.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

The post-World War II influx of immigrants to the United States came in 1949.

Because the immigrants fled from the religious, cultural, and political persecution of the Soviet regime and could not return to their native countries after World War II, the U.S. Congress facilitated their entry by enacting laws designating them as displaced persons.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

Many of the post-World War II refugees were professionals.

All three Baltic countries have regular song festivals and dance festivals in the US and in the native countries too.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

The Baltic countries are strong in the arts, and theater, opera, music of all types, and film continue to flourish.

During the past 10 years, the three Baltic countries have experienced a “brain-drain” to some extent because many of their highly educated have emigrated to the US and Europe.

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Baltic Overview/Heritage

Education is highly valued by people of Baltic descent. All three Baltic countries have high literacy rates.

Education is valued in itself and is seen as a way of improving life circumstances.

These immigrants made many sacrifices so their children could become educated. As a result, many Americans of Baltic descent have advanced degrees. Many are professionals in medicine and law.

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Baltic Communication

People of Baltic descent share thoughts and feelings readily.

The stereotype of quiet, stoic individuals is not borne out by observation or research.

For example, humor can be used to relate to these clients and is appreciated if used in the right context.

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Baltic Communication

Clients of Baltic origin may hesitate to share intimate thoughts and feelings related to their cultural sense of decorum, but this does not mean that they do not experience feelings and emotions.

They may wait to see if the health-care professional is caring and takes the time to actually listen to them.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

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14

Baltic Communication

As a whole, people of Baltic descent are not flamboyant or highly volatile, but individual differences are always present.

Some individuals enjoy touch and close contact, while others do not.

Individuals from these cultures are receptive to a caring use of touch from family and close friends, but they may come across as more aloof with strangers.

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Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

15

Baltic Communication

People of Baltic descent give attention to the past, present, and future.

The past is revered in the sense that significant historical events for each cultural group continue to be celebrated and acknowledged.

People of Baltic descent value frugality because they have had hard times in the past.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

16

Baltic Communication

People of Baltic descent view time similarly to the dominant American culture.

Individuals of Baltic descent have become acculturated to time awareness and deadlines; they arrive at appointments on time. Because of their strong work ethic and high value on work, they take pride in the efficient and wise use of their time.

Socially, however, they may be less aware of time and tend to be late.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

17

Baltic Communication

Individuals of Baltic descent generally use their American last name.

First names of women end in “a” and first names of men end in “as” or “s.” In their native languages, the last names indicate if the person is male or female; for females, the last name indicates if the woman is married or single.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

18

Baltic Communication

In Latvian, the typical last name ends in “ans,” “ins,” or “e” with the endings indicating masculine or feminine genders.

Estonian names are similar to Finnish names.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

19

Baltic Communication

The father is the head of the household in the typical family of Baltic heritage.

Both men and women in the family may have jobs and discuss major decisions.

Health-care and other major decisions are made jointly by both spouses.

Women in the family are given respect, and decision-making is done by both men and women.

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Copyright © 2013 F.A. Davis Company

20

Baltic Family Roles & Organization

Because education is highly valued, parents encourage and supervise children in their school work and progress.

Corporal punishment was used by older generations but is practiced less by younger families.

Cultural activities, such as song or dance groups and ensembles, frequently unite people.

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ClickerCheck

The language spoken by people from the Baltic countries is

a. The same for Latvians and Lithuanians but different for Estonians.

b. The same for Estonians and Latvians but different for Lithuanians.

c. Different for each country.

d. The same for each country.

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Correct Answer

Correct answer: C

The language spoken by people from the Baltic countries is different for each country.

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Baltic Family Roles & Organization

The traditional nuclear family is still the standard in these cultural groups.

Family is highly valued and divorce is still fairly rare.

Lithuanian Americans are predominantly Roman Catholic, and their religion supports strong family values.

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Baltic Family Roles & Organization

Older people are respected in the Baltic cultures.

If grandparents are unable to live independently, every effort is made to have them move in with an adult child, usually a daughter.

Nursing homes are used when needed.

In America, a certain amount of respect is still given to professionals, but each cultural group has more of an egalitarian sense of community.

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Baltic Family Roles & Organization

The literature does not include information about same-sex couples in these cultures.

Because the dominant religions of the Baltic countries do not sanction homosexuality, few individuals and couples are openly homosexual.

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ClickerCheck

Newer immigrants from the Baltic countries should be assessed for

a. Malaria.

b. Thalassemia.

c. Orthopedic disorders.

d. Endocrine disorders.

Transcultural Health Care: A Culturally Competent Approach, 4th Edition

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Correct Answer

Correct answer: D

Newer immigrants from the Baltic countries should be assessed for endocrine disorders because of radiation fallout from the Chernobyl accident.

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Baltic Workforce Issues

Material aspects are seen as secondary to the more important family values.

Responsibility is taken seriously and is encouraged.

People of Baltic descent adapt readily to American values of timeliness in the workplace.

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Baltic Workforce Issues

People of Baltic descent have no difficulty maintaining their sense of autonomy and readily take on work roles, responsibility, and decision making.

They usually do not like to confront those in authority directly and find ways to deal with difficult situations or people through the use of humor or deference.

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Baltic Workforce Issues

Recent immigrants who have lived under the Soviet regime may not be accustomed to making decisions for themselves or acting autonomously.

In previous governmental regimes, individuals and their rights were not considered important.

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Baltic Biocultural Ecology

People of Baltic descent have white skin. Estonians are similar to the Finns with brown hair and eyes, but some are blonde and blue-eyed.

Latvians and Lithuanians have fair complexions with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Recent immigrants from the Baltics may be at risk for cancer because of industrial pollution and radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1988.

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Baltic Biocultural Ecology

Some immigrants are survivors of political torture, having spent years in prison labor camps in Siberia.

The incidence of alcoholism is high in the Baltics.

Ashkenazi Jews from the Baltic countries may respond differently to neuroleptic agents.

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Baltic High-Risk Health Behaviors

Exercise and physical activity are valued, and people of these cultures make an effort to get a reasonable amount of exercise.

Individuals who have emigrated to the United States in the last 15 years tend to continue to smoke.

Although many people of Baltic descent maintain jobs and are able to function, their use of alcohol is high.

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34

Baltic Nutrition

Because many individuals who left the Baltics after World War II experienced food shortages and times of starvation, food is important to these people.

Recent immigrants have left the Baltics for economic reasons and have also experienced food shortages.

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Baltic Nutrition

Some foods common among this cultural group are meats such as pork, chicken, and beef.

Rye and whole grain breads are popular.

Baked goods such as bacon rolls, yeast baked goods, and rich tortes and cakes are common.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are enjoyed.

Potato dishes such as potato pancakes, potato kugel, and potato dumplings are popular.

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Baltic Nutrition

Beets, mushrooms, and cabbage are used in soups and sauces.

Dairy products such as sour cream, butter, and yogurt are included daily in their meals.

Grain porridges are popular, especially among Latvians who have putras porridges.

The content of porridges varies according to regions in Latvia.

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Baltic Nutrition

Foods enjoyed by people of Baltic descent include smoked and unsmoked sausages, and smoked fish, eel, and pork.

The spices used are rather mild compared with those of other cultures, but foods may be high in salt content.

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Baltic Pregnancy & Childbearing Practices

In previous generations in the Baltics, infant mortality rates were very high. Large families were encouraged under communism.

Baltic people in the US use a variety of birth control measures.

Americans of Baltic descent use modern Western medicine practices obtain early prenatal medical care, and are receptive to health teaching for prenatal and postnatal care.

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Baltic Pregnancy & Childbearing Practices

Some women and families from these cultural groups prefer natural childbirth and breast-feeding.

Pregnant women are to remain calm and receive no shock or frightening news.

Godparents are important in the child’s life and traditionally give gifts, including candy, to each other and guests.

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Baltic Death Rituals

Death is viewed as part of life, and ceremonies of the wake and funeral are linked with Christian religious services.

The funeral may take place within 3 to 4 days following the death, providing time for out-of-town friends and relatives to gather.

Cremation is permissible.

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Baltic Death Rituals

The funeral is usually a Christian service, followed by a meal at which all attendees are welcomed. Burial is the usual practice.

Grief is expressed by sadness, crying, and talking about the deceased with fondness and respect.

Individuals from these cultures express emotions readily but not in highly dramatic ways.

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Baltic Death Rituals

Decorum is maintained in public and with strangers.

The dead are often remembered with frequent visits to the cemetery.

All Souls Day, November 2, Ve·line·s, is a significant day for Lithuanian Americans, with religious ceremonies commemorating the dead.

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Baltic Spirituality

Estonian Americans and Latvian Americans are predominantly Lutherans but include some Catholics, while Lithuanian Americans are predominantly Roman Catholic.

All these groups celebrate major Christian religious holidays, particularly Easter and Christmas.

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44

Baltic Spirituality

Individuals of these cultures consider themselves as having spiritual roots, which may be closely linked with their high value for their language, country, and culture.

Under Soviet rule, religion was forbidden; every effort to eradicate all traces of religious belief.

Religion was replaced by communist dogma for 50 years.

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Baltic Spirituality

A very small percentage of Latvians maintain an ancient pagan religion.

This religious group is called Dievtui (those with God) and has a high priest as the head of the group.

Stories include myths and folk wisdom in rhyme as an important part of their content.

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Baltic Spirituality

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