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Archive for the ‘World Edition’ Category

New Year’s Around the World

New Year's celebrations in Cambodia

New Year’s celebrations in Cambodia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

The New Year is coming up fast, and people around the world are preparing to celebrate. In fact, in some countries, New Year’s celebrations are the largest of the year. Check out these traditions from around the world, via CultureGrams. How are they different from (or the same as) the way you celebrate the New Year?

Burkina Faso
Burkinabè of all creeds join together to celebrate the New Year. For New Year’s Eve, adults often buy or sew new clothes or uniforms. Children typically dress in their best clothes and do the sambèsambè in the streets or at their friends’ homes. Catholic children often build crèches in front of their homes. Most Christians go to church and then return home to celebrate with food, drink, and music. In both rural and urban areas, young men often hold parties for their male and female friends that involve dancing, eating, and drinking until dawn. At midnight, they typically listen to a traditional New Year’s song and light firecrackers. In rural areas, the parties are usually held outside. To wish each other a happy New Year, men and women usually kiss each other on the cheek, and men often bump their foreheads together four times. On New Year’s Day, food and drink are served to guests, and many people pay social visits to their friends and family.

Colombia
New Year’s is surrounded by many superstitions, or agüeros. For example, on New Year’s Eve, people may wear yellow underwear as a symbol of good fortune. Some put lentils in their pockets, representing abundance. Those wishing to travel in the new year might run around the block carrying a suitcase at midnight. More generally, at midnight, people drink champagne and eat 12 grapes, one for each month of good fortune in the new year. In rural areas, people make dolls stuffed with newspaper and leave them at the entrances to their houses for a few days before the new year. These dolls, called año viejo (old year), represent the bad that people want to eliminate from the current year before moving on to the next one. They are burned on 31 December at midnight, amidst cheering, drinks, and music.

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

Georgia
New Year’s is one of the most popular holidays in Georgia. Families usually celebrate New Year’s together, but parties are also arranged. On New Year’s Eve, families celebrate by eating gozinaki (a traditional food made of honey and walnuts), turkey satsivi (turkey with a walnut sauce), roast piglet, ham, khachapuri  (cheese in a wheat-flour dough), mchadi (bread made of corn flour), fish, fruit, nuts, and churchkhela (walnuts, chestnuts, or almonds strung on twine and then dipped in a grape syrup and hung to dry). The first person who comes to a home after midnight is called the first footer. Traditionally, he was chosen by the family, and no one else was allowed to enter the home before him. If the first footer is considered a lucky person in everyday life, he is thought to bring luck, prosperity, and health to the family. Families choose a different first footer the next year if the previous one is thought to have brought the family bad luck over the past year. Most families set up their Christmas tree on New Year’s Eve. Some families exchange presents on New Year’s Day. Toblisbabua (Snow Father, like Santa Claus) brings presents to some families; other families hide presents around the house for children to find.

You can find many more New Year’s traditions from around the world in the Holidays sections of CultureGrams World and Kids editions!

Exploring Canada with ProQuest K-12 Resources

Rainbow Bridge
View from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Photo by: Prayinto via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

ProQuest has several K-12 products young researchers can use to learn more about Canada’s culture, native peoples, history, and modern issues. Here are our top three picks of where to get started:

CultureGrams World and Kids Editions

CultureGrams is a great online resource with reliable and up-to-date information about the country of Canada! Explore the World and Kids Canada reports to learn fun facts and get a native’s perspective on daily life in Canada. CultureGrams also includes additional features such as printable country flags, audio of national anthems, photos, recipes, famous people, infographics, and interviews with people all over the world.

Image via CultureGrams World Edition: Canada

CultureGrams Canadian Provinces Edition   

Want more detailed information about each of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories? Check out the kid-friendly CultureGrams Canadian Provinces Edition and read about environmental issues, Canadian wildlife, cultural festivals, local recipes, and the First Nations, Métis, and Aboriginal peoples of each province and territory. Reports also include historical timelines, images, maps, charts, data tables, and fun facts, and more.

Image via the CultureGrams Provinces Edition

SIRS Discoverer

Visit SIRS Discoverer and find info on all things Canada including current events, pro/con leading issues, animal facts, images, books, and much more. This database is searchable by grade level and Lexile range. Search articles and read up on Canadian authors such as Lucy Maud Montgomery, creator of the Anne of Green Gables books, and Farley Mowat, best known for his book Never Cry Wolf. Other famous Canadians include scientists Irene Ayako Uchido and Ralph Steinman, who made great advancements in the field of biology and Canadian comedians John Candy, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey.

Image of Lucy Maud Montgomery via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

 

 

 

Cultures Meet in Canada

The first Syrian refugee family to land in Toronto (9 Dec 2015). Photo by Domnic Santiago, via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. government recently decided to end temporary protected status of 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the United States and is deciding whether it will do the same for tens of thousands of refugees from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras. As a result, Canada is receiving a new wave of immigrants from those communities and expects these numbers to grow.

In contrast to its southern neighbor, Canada’s government is planning to increase its already generous immigrant acceptance policies and the majority of Canadians are on board. One went so far as to sponsor 50 Syrian refugee families, and others have participated in family-to-family sponsoring programs.  Such programs have largely been successful, but the struggles they do face often point to the importance of cultural education and understanding. And the more diverse Canadian society becomes, the larger the need becomes for refugees and Canadian citizens alike to learn about the other.

CultureGrams can provide a starting place for groups encountering each other for the first time, including a framework for exploring questions such as the following:

  • What ethnic groups are present in a country?
  • What languages do people speak?
  • What are the most prominent religions? And how might someone’s religious belief affect their daily behavior?
  • What common attitudes and values are shared by people in the country?
  • What do people in the country commonly wear?
  • How do people greet each other?
  • What gestures are potentially offensive?
  • What foods are typically eaten in the country? What customs are there that accompany eating?
  • What games and sports are popular?
  • What family structures and gender roles are common?

Explore these questions in relation to countries like HaitiSyria, and Canada today, in addition to delving into the history, culture, and society of specific Canadian provinces.

CultureGrams: Faces of the World Interviews

Gabon Interview via ProQuest CultureGrams

Our Faces of the World Interviews are one of the most popular features in CultureGrams. Users enjoy learning about how ordinary individuals–both adults and children–within a particular country see the world, what they do each day, what they worry about, what matters to them, etc. The interviews provide an intimate glimpse into what daily life is like for these people. Occasionally, however, users have questions about some of the content in the interviews. So we would like to clarify our editorial policy as it relates to the Faces of the World Interviews.

  1. The interviews represent the views of native inhabitants of various countries around the world. They are a reflection of how those individuals see their lives and the countries and cultures they live in. We don’t edit the interviews for content unless there is something that is incomprehensible or unless they say something that would be inappropriate for our users. As much as possible, we try to preserve the original voice and thoughts of the interviewees, only editing for clarity’s sake, as needed.
  2. Although our collection of interviews is growing, the total number is still relatively small (400+), so we make no claims that the small number of interviews we offer per country are necessarily representative of majority views within a particular country. These people speak for themselves. We expect that there will be greater variety as we add more interviews, but there is no way that a small number of interviews can adequately represent the whole or capture the diversity of opinion and experience within an entire country.
  3. In a few rare instances, users have suggested that some of the opinions represented in the interviews are overly negative. However,  as noted above, the goal of these interviews is to have real people tell us what their daily lives are like and what matters to them. It is their opinions that count when it comes to the interviews, not ours. Also, our goal with CultureGrams more broadly isn’t about promoting any particular country.  Instead, we aim to capture some of the diversity of human experience and to do so honestly. And we attempt to present this information as fairly and objectively as we can.

All Saints’ Day & All Souls’ Day

These teenagers in Belgium are celebrating the upcoming All Saints’ Day with improvised ghost costumes. [via CultureGrams Photo Gallery]

These teenagers in Belgium are celebrating the upcoming All Saints’ Day with improvised ghost costumes. [via CultureGrams Photo Gallery]

While most people are familiar with Halloween, not as many are familiar with the holidays that fall on the following two days: All Saints’ Day (1 November) and All Souls’ Day (2 November). All Saints’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day are traditionally Christian holidays and together are known as Allhallowtide. They are celebrated in countries around the world.

All Saints’ Day, like its name implies, is a holiday that honors all Christian saints. It is a national holiday in many predominantly Catholic countries. All Souls’ Day commemorates loved ones who have passed away. The distinction between All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day tends to be fluid, since both revolve around remembering the dead, and celebrations of both holidays can include visits to cemeteries.

CultureGrams is a great resource for learning about holidays around the world. Each World and Kids edition report has a Holidays section that discusses major holidays in each country. Here are a few examples of what students can learn from CultureGrams about how different countries celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day:

Austria
“All Saints’ Day, called Allerheiligen, […] is a time for remembering the dead and visiting graves. Many families decorate the graves of their relatives. Some people attend public services for victims of the two World Wars.”

Chile
“All Saints’ Day is an important traditional holiday. On this day, people across the country make a point of visiting cemeteries, where they pay homage to their deceased loved ones and leave flowers on their graves. Families may travel long distances to spend the first and second days of November in their towns of origin, visiting relatives and going to local cemeteries in a group.”

Guatemala
“On 1 November, Guatemalans celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, or All Saints’ Day). It is believed that the spirits of the dead are allowed to visit the living on this night. Celebrations combine traditional beliefs with Catholic traditions. Families cook special meals, visit cemeteries, clean family members’ graves, and decorate the graves with flowers. In Santiago, people build and fly large kites with messages for the dead written on both the kites themselves and on the tails.”

Ecuador
“On All Souls’ Day […] people visit cemeteries, eat bread-dough dolls, and drink colada morada (a thick drink made with berries, sweet spices, and purple flour).”

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What are you celebrating today?

Christopher Columbus photo via Wikimedia, indigenous Guatemalan girls photo via CultureGrams.

 

Today, or on a day soon to come this month, countries throughout the Western hemisphere will mark some aspect of the European encounter with the Americas. Which aspect they choose to celebrate depends on their perspective. And in fact some cities within the same country (namely the U.S.) will be celebrating under different titles.

In many Latin American countries, this October holiday is called Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in an effort to highlight the indigenous cultures Columbus encountered when he arrived in the Americas. However, some indigenous groups, such as those in Chile, find nothing to celebrate on this day and instead call it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Indigenous Resistance Day.

Within the United States, the federal holiday is called Columbus Day, a title that, according to the New York Times, has been controversial from the start. Formally made a recurring holiday in 1934, Columbus Day began as a celebration more significant to Italian-Americans than the general population, and Italian-American groups today still advocate for the holiday to be called Columbus Day. As the figure of Columbus broadened to represent general European settlement of the Americas, resistance to the holiday deepened. As one Christian Science Monitor article (available via SIRS) put it, “For many native Americans, Columbus is a symbol of European colonialism, enabling widespread destruction of indigenous cultures and its people and paving the way for rampant oppression and forced relocation.” In response, many states with high native populations stopped celebrating Columbus Day and some cities and states added “Indigenous People’s Day” to the holiday name or changed the name entirely. Today only 25 states in all observe the holiday.

However, shifting the celebration from Columbus to the people he and other Europeans colonized is not itself without controversy. Last month an opinion piece (available via eLibrary) in The Weekly Standard argued that “up until fairly recently the European discovery of the Americas was regarded as a milestone in Western civilization . . .” The author also likened Columbus Day to other U.S. holidays that are outdated but “represent the great American habits of adaptation and historical amnesia.”

So what is the holiday called where you live today? Or is it considered a holiday at all? And do you agree with that status or name? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, check out more Columbus Day/Día de la Raza/Indigenous People’s Day articles and information in CultureGrams, SIRS, and eLibrary!

Learn More about Hurricane-Stricken Areas

Debris from Hurricane Maria in Dominica

Debris from Hurricane Maria in Dominica [via Wikimedia Commons]

The devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have been making headlines over the past few weeks. Help your students learn more about the nations, territories, and states hit hardest by these natural disasters with help from CultureGrams.

For instance, a recent poll1 revealed that almost half of Americans were unaware that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, making Hurricane Maria’s destruction in Puerto Rico a domestic disaster. But from the History section of the World Edition Puerto Rico report, students learn that “In 1917, Puerto Rico officially became a U.S. territory, and its people were granted citizenship” and that “Puerto Rico became a commonwealth of the United States with its own constitution in July 1952.”

Each of the CultureGrams reports also discusses topics such as Land and Climate and Population, which—along with the other report sections—can help students learn more about the conditions, demographics, and culture in the areas hit hard by recent hurricanes.

Hurricane-hit areas you may want your students to study include:

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1. Dropp, Kyle, and Brendan Nyhan. “Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know Puerto Ricans Are Fellow Citizens.” The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/upshot/nearly-half-of-americans-dont-know-people-in-puerto-ricoans-are-fellow-citizens.html.

Teaching Activity: Regional Food Tour

A spread of Moroccan appetizers, which include dishes made from tomatoes and squash to potatoes and beans. (Fes, Morocco, October 2006) Image Source: Aaron Thompson

Did you know that CultureGrams features country-specific recipes for each of its 209 country reports? The following activity explores cuisines from around the world. This activity comes from the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF, which features more than 70 activities to help teachers make the most of our country, state, and province reports.

Grade level

9–12

Objective:

In this teaching activity, students compare foods from different continents and write about what they’ve learned. See the Teaching Activites PDF for Common Core and other national curriculum standards met by this activity.

Time requirement

Preparation: 30 minutes

In-class: 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

CultureGrams Online Edition—Recipe Collection CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

Instructions

  1. Ask each student to select four countries, each from a different continent, for which there are corresponding interviews. To save time, you may wish to select these yourself. (For an index of all available interviews, access the main Interviews page.)
  2. Using the CultureGrams World Edition, have the students read the Diet section for each of their selected countries. They may also access the Recipe Collection to learn more about typical
  3. Ask each student to read one interview for each of the four countries he or she has What has each interviewee identified as a favorite food or foods?
  4. Have the students write a one-paragraph response essay identifying which of the four countries’ cuisine seems most appetizing to them. Of all the dishes described—in the World Edition Diet sections, Recipes, or Interviews—which would they most like to try?
  5. In a second short response essay, have the students compare the cuisine from the different continents. How did they differ? What staple foods, dishes, or popular ingredients were unique to one continent?

Extension activity

Have the students select a recipe from the Recipe Collection to make at home and bring to class. You may wish to select a limited number of options beforehand that have simple instructions and readily available ingredients.

Below are some photos of meals from the CultureGrams photo gallery.

This meal in Barbados includes curried chicken and lamb with okra and chickpeas. Bajan food is, for the most part, a unique combination of African and English traditions. (Bridgetown, Barbados, December 2015) Image Source: Joshua Ligairi

Fresh avocado, limes, crispy tortillas, soupy black beans, and a variety of sauces—all of these elements accompany the main focus of a classic Mexican meal: the taco. (Mexico City, Mexico, September 2008) Image Source: Peter Stone

This pub meal consists of pork sausages, peas, and Yorkshire pudding—a traditional English food made primarily of flour, eggs, and milk. (Newcastle, England, United Kingdom, October 2006) Image Source: Adam Blackwell

Mohinga is a soup that is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is made of rice noodles, catfish, and spices and garnished with lime, cilantro, and peanuts. (Mae Sot, Thailand, June 2010) Image Source: CultureGrams

A simple dinner of rice, fish, and fried plantain is served in a Brazilian restaurant. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 2007) Image Source: CultureGrams

 

Where in the World: Swimming

We’re deep into summer and in many parts of the United States temperatures are topping 100°F. What to do? What people all over the world do to relax and cool down in hot weather: get wet! Whether it’s at a public pool, a local river, or the nearest beach, swimming is a favorite pastime worldwide.

The following photos are from the CultureGrams photo gallery.

Can you guess where each photo was taken?

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10.

We’ve posted the answers in the comments section of this post. Check them out and tell us how well you did!

Don’t forget that CultureGrams has thousands of pictures gathered from around the globe. Photos in the CultureGrams slideshow gallery and photo gallery can be used for educational purposes (as long as they are not posted on the open web).

CultureGrams: The Importance of Maps

World Map via CultureGrams

Have you ever thought about why maps are so important? Maps can help orient us. They can tell us where we are and where we want to go. Maps can help us find things. They offer a visual way to comprehend the world we live in and even worlds beyond ours. They provide perspective from high up or at a micro level.  They can be valuable in providing context, making comparisons, identifying connections or patterns, and even in predicting what lies ahead. Whether in the classroom or outside it, maps are valuable tools for teaching and learning. No wonder that developing map skills is a part of Common Core and other national and state curriculum standards.

Gabon Detail Map via CultureGrams

 

In CultureGrams you’ll find a wide variety of maps to help users learn. There are simple maps, physical maps, political maps, regional maps, detail maps, and county maps. And there are outline maps that are not only useful in their own right, but that students can use to create their own maps to reflect what they find interesting about a particular region, country, state,or province.

Denmark Outline Map via CultureGrams

To add further value to the wide variety of CultureGrams maps, our editorial staff has created a number of map-related learning activities that teachers can use for in-class projects or homework assignments. Students can use maps to understand the worldwide popularity of soccer in The World Game, as part of a “Geography Bee.” Or they can learn more about the impact of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere through such activities as “Colonization of Africa” or “Cricket and Colonization.”

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