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CultureGrams — New Kids Country: U.S. Virgin Islands

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

Flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands via CultureGrams

The new U.S. Virgin Islands 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 U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only location in the United States where people drive on the left side of the road.
  • There is an underwater national park in Trunk Bay, off the coast of Saint John. It is one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean and is marked by underwater signs.
  • Famous impressionist painter Camille Pissarro was born in Saint Thomas.
  • The islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas each have a nickname. They are known as Twin City (Saint Croix), Love City (Saint John), and Rock City (Saint Thomas).

Read about the Carnival celebration, life as a kid, and traditional foods, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams Reviewers Needed!

A crowd of youngsters gather to watch a break-dance competition in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Salym Fayad.

If you’re familiar with CultureGrams, you know that one of the things that makes our product stand out is the “native perspective” of much of the information in our country, state, and province reports. CultureGrams goes beyond statistics to explore not only the history of a place, but also the culture and day-to-day lives of residents of that location, including topics like dating and marriage rituals, eating habits, life as a kid, and much more.

CultureGrams is able to capture this unique perspective because we work with native reviewers and other country experts to portray what life is really like for people living in the locations covered by our reports.

For instance, did you know that in Sierra Leone, a baby’s umbilical cord is placed under a new tree before it is planted? Or that in Kazakhstan, newlyweds visit local landmarks after the wedding ceremony? This is the type of unique information CultureGrams can provide its customers because of the perspectives native reviewers share with us.

Because we’re continually updating, reviewing, and expanding our country, state, and province reports, we’re always looking for reviewers to help us make sure the reports and other features (like photos and recipes) are up to date with the latest and most accurate information.

If you’re a native or country expert for any of the places below, and are interested helping us review our reports, please visit our website to learn more about the project and qualifications and fill out an application.

Countries

Armenia Ghana Mali Slovakia  West Bank and Gaza
Bangladesh Greece Mauritania Slovenia  Yemen
Belarus Haiti Mexico South Sudan  
Cape Verde Iran Moldova Sri Lanka  
Costa Rica Italy Mongolia Suriname  
Croatia Jamaica Norway  Togo  
Dominican Republic Kenya Pakistan  Tonga  
Ethiopia Madagascar Romania Tunisia  
 Fiji Malawi Serbia UAE  

 

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Alaska Kansas New Mexico Northwest Territories (Canadian territory)
Idaho Nebraska Oklahoma  
Minnesota Missouri South Dakota  

 

CultureGrams: Learn about St. Dévote’s Day, January 27

A religious parade passes through the Royal Palace Square in Monte Carlo during the annual celebration for Saint Dévote. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

CultureGrams is a great way to learn about holidays around the world. Each World and Kids edition report has a Holidays section that discusses the traditions and celebrations associated with a country’s most popular holidays. Not only can learning about a country’s holidays be fun, but it’s also an engaging way to learn about a country’s culture and gain insight into what is important to the people who celebrate the holidays.

Some holidays celebrated in other countries may sound familiar, but others may be new to you. For example, are you familiar with St. Dévote’s Day, celebrated in Monaco on 27 January? That’s this Friday! From the World Edition Monaco report Holidays section, we learn:

On 27 January, Monégasques honor St. Dévote, the patron saint of the principality. Dévote was persecuted and martyred for her faith in the fourth century. Her body was eventually buried in Monaco, and several miracles were associated with Dévote. Years later, a group of thieves tried to steal and sell Dévote’s bones, but Monégasque sailors retrieved the bones and set fire to the thieves’ boats. On this holiday, the prince or a member of the royal family sets fire to an old boat in the port to commemorate the rescue of the bones.

Not only can you read about St. Dévote’s Day on CultureGrams, but you can also find photos of the celebration in our Photo Gallery so you can see what the celebration is like:

On the Feast of Saint Dévote, relics are carried in a procession around Monaco. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

 

On the eve of the Feast of Saint Dévote, Monégasques prepare to burn a boat to commemorate the prevented theft of Dévote relics. Via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery.

Find more holidays celebrated around the world in CultureGrams World and Kids editions!

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Mauritius

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

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

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about Mauritius:

  • The dodo—a flightless bird native to Mauritius—became extinct in the 17th century. The dodo only existed in Mauritius.
  • Mauritius Island is around 8 million years old, which is rather young in geological time.
  • Several different types of giant tortoise used to live in Mauritius but have now become extinct.
  • Mauritian ships are sometimes attacked by modern-day pirates in the Indian Ocean; Mauritius began holding court trials for pirates in 2013.

Read about Mauritian séga music and explore the fascinating history of Mauritius in this new report.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: New Caledonia

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

Flag of New Caledonia via CultureGrams

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

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about New Caledonia:

  • British Captain James Cook named New Caledonia after the Latin name for Scotland.
  • New Caledonia has a quarter of the world’s nickel, which is used in cell phones, kitchen tools, medical equipment, and buildings.
  • For 40 years, the capital city of Nouméa was a penal colony (place to exile prisoners). It also served as a U.S. military headquarters in the South Pacific during World War II.
  • New Caledonia is home to the largest species of tree fern in the world. They are so large they look like palm trees.

Read about the native Kanak people, traditional foods, and games and sports, 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—Christmas Around the World

ColombiaChristmas

A Colombian nativity scene
Image credit: Salym Fayad

As Christmas approaches, people all over the world are preparing for the holiday in their unique ways. Read about some distinctive Christmas traditions from Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America below and visit CultureGrams holiday sections to find out more!

Argentina: Extended families gather on Christmas Eve for dinner, music, and often dancing. Candy is served just before midnight, when the fireworks displays begin. Gifts from Papá Noel (Father Christmas) are opened on Christmas Eve, while all other gifts are exchanged on Christmas Day. The singing of traditional Christmas carols by family members features prominently in Christmas celebrations.

Mozambique: Christmas is celebrated only by Christians. Church meetings are held in the morning; the afternoon is spent with family. A special meal is served and usually includes meat, fish, fried potatoes, rice, and cake. People celebrate with music and dancing. Some families exchange presents, but this is not a major part of the holiday. Family Day falls on the same day as Christmas and is celebrated by all Mozambicans. Celebrations intertwine with Christmas celebrations; the main difference is that non-Christians do not attend church on this day.

ArmeniaBecause Armenia was the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as the official state religion, many Armenians celebrate Christmas (Surb Tsnund) with a special solemnity. Christians attend church and participate in the Divine Liturgy (a church service) conducted by the chief bishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On Christmas Eve, families bring lit candles from the church into their homes to purify the homes from the power of darkness. A typical Christmas dinner for families includes fish and rice, served with raisins, dried fruits, and Armenian red wine.

Colombia: The nine nights before Christmas are called la novena, when family and friends gather to take part in traditional Christmas prayers, sing carols, and eat customary Christmas snacks such as natilla (similar to flan) and buñuelos (fried dough balls). Each night the novena is celebrated in a different home, and these events often turn into parties that include drinking and dancing. On Christmas Eve, families eat a large dinner, pray around the pesebre, and sing Christmas carols. At midnight, they exchange presents.

Tonga: On Christmas Eve, Sunday-school children may perform the story of Jesus’s birth for their families and walk around the perimeter of their communities singing Christmas carols. Meanwhile, older Tongans visit family members. Afterward, children go home, where they may receive a gift from their parents—this might be an inexpensive toy or balloons and candy. No matter what day of the week it falls on, Christmas day is treated as a Sunday; people refrain from outdoor activities (other than cooking) and businesses close. On Christmas morning, most people attend a church service. This is followed by a gathering of extended family for a special lunch of yams and roasted pigs.

SwedenAn important part of many Swedes’ modern Christmas celebrations is a television program called Kalle Ankas Jul, which is broadcast on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Each year since 1959, much of the country has gathered to watch this compilation of clips from different cartoons, whose ratings outperform nearly all other television events throughout the year. Santa Claus is called Jultomte—the “Christmas gnome.” The name Jultomte once referred to a fabled gnome who watched over Swedish homes during the year. In the modern tradition, he brings gifts for the children to the door on Christmas Eve. After Jultomte delivers the gifts, the family dances around the tree and sings carols.

CultureGrams Extremes Tables

Can you list the ten largest countries in the world? What about the smallest? Can you name the ten most populous countries? The ten countries with the youngest or oldest populations? Do you know which countries have the most women in parliament or the fewest internet users? What countries have the largest number of airports or the smallest number of physicians per 10,000 people. For answers to these and many other questions, check out CultureGrams Extremes Data Tables. These fascinating tables list top and bottom ten countries in a variety of categories. Links to the tables can be found in the lower portion of the left navigation bar on our Graphs and Tables page.

Extremes Table via ProQuest CultureGrams

But these top ten and bottom ten tables aren’t included merely as a source of geographical  and cultural trivia. They can also foster discussion and critical thinking. Students might be asked to think about why particular countries are on a specific Extremes table and what those countries have in common. For example, what do countries with a low population density have in common? What factors might result in certain countries having high or low life expectancy?

Also, they could discuss the impact of a country being very high or low in a particular category. What impact does it have on a country if it has low public school enrollment or high life expectancy? What effect might an aging population have on a country? What about a very young population?

And another option might be to look at some of the tables and consider how certain data in the tables might be misinterpreted. If one looks at the countries with the highest public spending on education, does that mean that those populations are the best educated? Why or why not?

Although they make up only a small part of the CultureGrams database, the Extremes tables are a tool that will  yield valuable insights to those who are able to think critically about what is revealed in the numbers.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Comoros

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

comoros-flag

Flag of Comoros via CultureGrams

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

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about Comoros:

  • Comoros is one of the top two producers of vanilla in the world (second to Madagascar).
  • The name Comoros came from the Arabic word qamar, meaning “moon”
  • Arab slave traders used Comoros as a base for transporting African slaves as early as the 16th century.
  • Comoros has one of the largest populations of the coelacanth fish, once called a “living fossil” because it was thought to have become extinct more than 65 million years ago, until it was rediscovered in the 20th century.

Read about local Comorian games and sports, as well as musical instruments and styles, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams: New Kosovo Interviews Added!

kosovointerviews

In November, we added interviews from Kosovo to our CultureGrams Interviews collection! There are four interviews, and each captures different viewpoints about life in Kosovo from people of various ages living in diverse parts of the country:

These interviews by country natives are not only interesting and fun to read, but they also give students insider knowledge into what life and culture in the country are really like.

Here’s an example from the interview with Blerona, in which she talks about what being a citizen of Kozovo means to her:

kosovobleronaBeing a citizen of my country means that I belong somewhere. I’m from Kosovo, a country that has suffered a lot from wars and poverty. There is a lot to fix here. I still believe that one day I will be truly proud of my country. For the moment, there is a lot of corruption here, and the youth have problems finding jobs. As a future student, I want my studies to not be worthless, and I want to be able to have good work prospects.

Find more interviews from countries all over the world in the CultureGrams Interviews gallery!

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