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CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Togo

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of Togo via CultureGrams

The new Togo report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about the Togo:

  • Togo is believed to have been named after a town on the shore of Lake Togo. The name comes from the Ewe words to (water) and go (shore).
  • Most homes in Togo do not have running water, so fetching water is a common daily chore for children.
  • Among the Ewe, babies are named after the day of the week they are born but are often given a personal first name as well.
  • To show respect, young people kneel when greeting an elder.

Read about the annual Evala festival, life as a kid, and traditional foods, all in this colorful new report.

New Year Traditions Around the World

New year in Kiev [CC BY-SA 3.0 tov_tob Wikimedia Commons]

New Year in Kiev [CC BY-SA 3.0 tov_tob Wikimedia Commons]

New Year’s (Jan. 1) is the most widely celebrated public holiday around the world, and in addition to staying up till midnight and partying with family and friends, many countries have their own unique traditions and customs to mark this holiday. Here are our top ten favorite New Year holiday traditions from around the world. Find more in the Holiday sections of CultureGrams World and Kids Editions.

1. Colombia

Colombians wear yellow underwear on New Year’s because they believe it will bring good fortune.

2. Guinea-Bissau

A common traditional belief encourages Bissau-Guineans to take a bath right at midnight in the New Year in order to cleanse one’s self of bad luck and pass into the new year with a fresh start.

3. Czech Republic

Czechs exchange small marzipan candies or paper cards in the shape of pigs for good luck in the new year.

4. Ecuador

Some superstitious New Year rituals include burning and jumping over the año viejo ( an effigy, literally meaning “old year”) for good luck, eating 12 raisins to ask for 12 wishes for the new year, wearing red underwear for good luck in love, and running around the block with an empty suitcase in hopes of travel opportunities in the new year.

5. Spain 

The Spanish wait for midnight and watch New Year’s television programming to see the clock strike 12; with each stroke, each person eats a grape.

6. Japan

The Japanese visit shrines and relatives during this time. Children receive money from their parents or grandparents. Families put up special decorations and eat special foods, such as mochi (pounded sticky rice).

7. Tonga

On New Year’s Eve, Tongans typically attend a midnight church service. Afterward, church groups proceed to the palace, where they greet and present gifts to the king. People also pay visits to family members and close friends, exchanging kisses to welcome the new year.

8. Russia

Almost every Russian family decorates a fir tree a week or two before the holiday and decorates it with glass balls, toys, and garlands. Underneath the tree, families place a figure of Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz). Russians traditionally exchange and eat mandarin oranges on New Year’s Day.

9. Bulgaria

On New Year’s Day, Bulgarian children go door-to-door, wishing good fortune to friends and relatives. The children carry a small decorated stick (survachka) which is used to tap people’s backs in exchange for candy and money.

10. Philippines

In the Philippines, everyone watches a fireworks display in town plazas or parks at midnight. Fireworks displays are traditionally thought to banish the bad spirits of the previous year.

Share some of your traditions with us. We would love to hear from you. Happy 2017!

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: São Tomé and Príncipe

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

F;ag of São Tomé and Príncipe via CultureGrams

Flag of São Tomé and Príncipe via CultureGrams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new São Tomé and Príncipe report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about São Tomé and Príncipe:

  • São Tomé and Príncipe is Africa’s second-smallest country by population.
  • The country’s islands are actually extinct (not active) volcanoes.
  • The island of São Tomé is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of the island of Príncipe.
  • São Tomé and Príncipe was one of the first African countries to grow cocoa, which was introduced by the Portuguese in the 18th century.

Find out about popular children’s games on the islands, read about traditional street plays, and discover what life is like as a kid, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Niue

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of Niue via CultureGrams

Flag of Niue via CultureGrams

The new Niue (pronounced “new-eh”) report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Niue:

  • A popular name for Niue is Rock of Polynesia.
  • There are no rivers or streams on Niue.
  • One traditional Niuean myth tells the story of the island being created when it was fished out of the sea with a hook by the Polynesian god Maui.
  • Coconut cream is an important ingredient in traditional Niuean cooking.

 

Find out about cooking in an underground oven, read about the traditional Niuean takalo (war dances), and discover what life is like as a kid, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Gabon

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Gabon Kids Edition Report

Gabon Kids Edition Report

The new Gabon report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Gabon:

  • Gabon’s national motto in French is Union, Travail, Justice (“Unity, Work, Justice”).
  • Traditional storytelling, which is often sung and accompanied by instruments, is a common art form today.
  • The name Gabon is thought to have come from the Portuguese word for cloak, gabao, which was used by explorers to describe the shape of the Komo River.
  • About 80 percent of Africa’s gorilla population lives in Gabon.

Find out about favorite fried snacks, read about popular kid games, and discover what life is like as a kid, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams: Now with Google Drive Integration

CultureGrams is excited to announce the addition of brand new feature to our site, Google Drive integration! CultureGrams users can now export any text from the World, Kids, States, and Provinces Editions directly to their Google Drives. This important new functionality allows students and teachers to more easily integrate CultureGrams content into their daily cloud-based workflow. Curious to see how it works? Check out the demo video below to see how you can start saving your favorite cultural reports, recipes, famous people, and interviews to your Google Drive. Enjoy!

CultureGrams: Frou-Frou Recipe

Malian woman prepares frou-frou to sell. Image via CultureGrams

Malian woman prepares frou-frou to sell. Image via CultureGrams                  

Who doesn’t love pancakes? In Mali, millet pancakes, or frou-frou, are a very popular street food.  People often stop on their way to work and buy frou-frou and tea from street vendors.

Enjoy this authentic Malian recipe for frou-frou from CultureGrams‘ collection of hundreds of recipes from around the world.

Frou-frou

Ingredients:
2 cups millet, bean, or wheat flour
1 teaspoon okra powder
1 teaspoon salt
Water, as needed
Oil, as needed

Directions:
1) Mix dry ingredients.
2) Add enough water to achieve a dough-like consistency.
3) Beat the dough vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes to aerate.
4) Heat oil in a pot with a rounded bottom or in a tin with rounded holds that can be placed over a flame.
5) Add spoonfuls of dough to the hot oil. Remove from pan or tin when dough is fried on both sides and cooked through the middle, approximately 2 or 3 minutes for each cake.
6) Serve hot or cold and with salt or sugar sprinkled on top.

CultureGrams Regional Quiz: The Middle East

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Guinea-Bissau

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Guinea-Bissau Kids Edition Report

Guinea-Bissau Kids Edition Report

The new Guinea-Bissau report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Guinea-Bissau:

  • Electricity is not available in many parts of the country, so most people have solar panels on their roofs.
  • Bissau-Guineans usually bring gifts of sugar, kola nuts (which contain caffeine), or tobacco when they are invited to someone’s home.
  • Listening to the radio is more popular than watching television in Guinea-Bissau, as most people do not own televisions.
  • Mothers usually wear their babies on their backs while they work in the fields.

Find out about popular street foods, read about a unique music and dance style called gumbe, and discover how Bissau-Guineans celebrate Carnaval all in this colorful new report.

 

CultureGrams—Teaching Activities: A Postcard from Canada

Did you know that CultureGrams offers almost 80 free teaching activities to its subscribers? If you don’t have access to CultureGrams, enjoy this free teaching activity today and sign up for a free trial of the product to access more.

CanadaMap

Map of Canada from Provinces Edition

A Postcard from Canada

Grade Level: K–5

Objective:

Research a Canadian province and create a post card depicting the highlights of the area.

National curriculum standard(s):

National Standards for Social Studies People, Places, and Environments

  • Standard H [Early Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the used of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.
  • Standard G [Early Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

(Developed by the National Council for the Social Studies)

 

Time Requirement Preparation: 15 minutes

In-class: 1 hour Materials

CultureGrams Provinces Edition Instructions

  • Have students choose a Canadian province they would most like to visit. Each student should read their province’s CultureGrams report, making notes about things that are unique to the province and things that attract visitors. They should also pay special attention to the Official Emblems section.
  • On 4×6 index cards, have students design post cards showing some of the highlights and unique traits of the province. Students may also want to incorporate one or more of the provinces’ official emblems, or they may do research to find some unofficial emblems.
  • On the back of the post card, have students write a message as though they were visiting the province and writing home. They should think about what they would want to do while in Canada, what difficulties they might run into, and what differences they would expect to find between their home and the province they are visiting.

Extension Activity:

Have students pretend that they are from the province they researched. If they were visiting the area in which the students live, what kind of post card would they send home? What would they want to be featured on the front? What would they write on the back? Have students design a post card for their area and write a message on the back to their family at home in Canada.