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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

12 Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World

Today, June 21, is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The Summer Solstice is celebrated around the world and presents a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about world culture because celebrations often incorporate history, folklore, food, clothing, and music.

What Is the Summer Solstice? 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice occurs between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year. Also known as the June Solstice, this is the time of year when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. It is the longest day of the year and considered the beginning of summer. After the solstice, the days start getting shorter, the nights longer.

In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was used to establish calendars and to plan farming cycles. Throughout history, the solstice has been a day of celebration to mark the change of seasons and celebrate the beginning of summer.

12 Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World

Have your students explore the world through learning about these 12 Summer Solstice celebrations:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Danes celebrate Sankt Hans Aften, also known as St. John’s Eve, during the Summer Solstice. This is a mix of pagan tradition and the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. On St. John’s Eve, Danes meet with family and friends to have dinner. Then they light a bonfire and throw a straw effigy of a witch on the fire before singing Holger Drachmann’s Midsommervise (1885). The tradition of the bonfire started due to a myth that there was a special power on this night as the witches flew on their broomsticks on their way to Bloksbjerg. The bonfires were lit to keep the evil forces away.

Krakow, Poland
In the city of Krakow, Poles celebrate the midsummer tradition of Wianki. “Wianki” means “wreaths” in English. The holiday originates from the pagan Summer Solstice tradition of floating handmade wreaths down the river. Women wear garlands to celebrate midsummer. Crafts, food, and fireworks are enjoyed as part of the festivities. There is also a Fete de la Musique (Festival of Music) with many performances by artists of various genres of music.

Menorca, Spain
The Festival of St. John combines the Summer Solstice with the birth of Saint John the Baptist. The festivities last a few days and involve bonfires, fireworks, music, and dancing. People drink and celebrate and slap the backsides of large black horses with riders that go up and down the streets. At night people throw sackfuls of hazelnuts at each other as a sign of love.

Mount Olympus, Greece
For 2,500 years, people have been ascending Mount Olympus in Greece on the Summer Solstice. The Summer Solstice is the first of the year according to some Greek Calendars. This trek is considered a mythical pilgrimage where participants walk amidst the “home of the gods.”

New York, New York
In Times Square, the Summer Solstice melds with International Yoga Day for a special Solstice in Times Square event. Termed “Mind Over Madness Yoga,” thousands of yogis with their mats descend on Times Square for meditation and stretching throughout the day. The event was created as a way to draw energy from the sun to reenergize participants through stillness. It is also a counterpoint to the winter event of New Year’s Eve.

Porto, Portugal
Thousands gather in Porto for the Sao Joao Festival to celebrate Saint John the Baptist’s birthday and also to mark the Summer Solstice. The festival lasts over one month but has its pinnacle on the Summer Solstice. The streets are filled with people, music, parties, and food and drink and decorated with St. John’s balloons made of multi-colored paper. Churches are also decorated. People hit passers-by on the head with soft squeaky plastic hammers. At midnight there is a fireworks display along the Douro River to honor the sun.

Riga, Latvia
Jani Day is the year’s most festive holiday. Held on the Summer Solstice, it marks the beginning of the summer’s “white nights,” when the sun sets for only a few hours. Food is prepared weeks in advance. Businesses close for two days. Huge bonfires are lit, and revelers attend parties, dances, and concerts. They sing songs and many stay up all night.

Reykjavik, Iceland
The Secret Solstice Festival. This is a music festival where bands entertain for 72 hours straight. For the fourth year in a row, concerts and parties take place in interesting locations including an ice cave, volcano crater, glacier, and a lagoon heated by volcanic fires.

Santa Barbara, California, United States
The Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974 as a birthday celebration for Michael Gonzales, a popular artist and mime. Since then it has expanded to include a music festival and is now the largest arts event in the area, drawing over 100,000 spectators. There is a large parade with floats, puppets, and fantastic costumes. The festival in Almeda Park has music, food, arts, crafts, and a drum circle.

Stockholm, Sweden
Swedes’ celebration of the Summer Solstice is a national holiday called Midsommar (Midsummer). Celebrations are held in late June (usually around the 20th) when the summer days are much longer than the nights. Most people try to celebrate outdoors in the countryside, where festivities include traditional music, dancing around the maypole, and barbecues and picnics of fresh potatoes, herring, salmon, and strawberries.

Tirol, Austria
Tirol marks the Summer Solstice in town and villages throughout Tirol. After sunset, torches and bonfires are lit on mountaintops all around the country. These fires are a sight to behold illuminating the mountains and creating a beautiful, mystical effect.

Wiltshire, England
Yearly on the Summer Solstice, people gather at Stonehenge to catch the sunrise above the stones. Stonehenge is a prehistorical monument that has associations as an ancient burial ground, astrological observatory, and a general sacred site. On the morning of the Summer Solstice, thousands gather dressed in flowers, glitter, and Druid costumes to gaze at the sun, dance, and drum. If you stand at just the right place, you will see the sun rise above the Heel Stone.

Point your students to CultureGrams for more information on the holiday and seasonal traditions of the countries of the world.
Don’t have CultureGrams? Free trials are available.

Zines, Culture and Self-Expression

"lairs zine" by danie on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“lairs zine” by danie on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

At the heart of local culture and creative storytelling emerged zines. The beauty of a zine is its cut-and-paste eclectic taste that questions status quo and gives a voice to anyone and everyone who has something to say. They are visual forums without commercial backing. Zines haven’t gone away, and there are some today that remain pillars in culture for people from all different backgrounds and life experiences. Gritty and messy, zines are mostly about self-expression.

Even libraries have an interest in zines, with articles written about what some institutions are doing to preserve the culture and history of these handmade works. One such example is the University of Iowa Library, where science fiction zines and others from the 1930s and 1950s are being archived. Another example is at the University of Chicago Library where zines about women, music and activism are collected. The need to be heard is always growing, and zines make that possible.

With the first “science fiction fanzine” published in 1930, it’s easy to see that zines have been around for a while. The infographic I’ve created provides a brief history of zines with a more complete timeline found on the Duke University Libraries page.

Some colorful examples of zines can also be found here:

The Lab
Mashable
Creative Bloq

Does your library collect zines? Have you ever made a zine? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest! We’d love to hear about it.

World’s Oldest Library Restored

After four years of renovations (totaling $30 million US dollars), the al-Qarawiyyin library in Fez, Morocco has reopened. For the first time in its history, however, it is now open to the general public.

The library is part of the al-Qarawiyyin University, which opened in 859 and is the world’s oldest continually operating university. In the 9th century, a wealthy Muslim woman from Tunisia named Fatima al-Fihriya provided funding for the construction of a mosque, which later expanded into a university. Her diploma, a wooden board, can still be seen today.

Aziza Chaouni, a Canadian-Moroccan architect, oversaw the site’s renovation, which boasts restored fountains, colorful mosaics, and refurbished texts. The library restoration included a new gutter system, solar panels and digital locks to protect the rare books room. Air conditioning was also installed to control the humidity.

 

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Al-Karaouine University (Al-Qarawiyyin)

By Anderson sady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

For 1,157 years, the library could only be accessed by theologians and academics. Today, visitors from around the globe can flock to see the oldest library in all its glory.

6 Magnificent Museums Around the World in 2016

Did you know every year since 1977, people around the world celebrate International Museum Day on and around May 18? Each year the event centers on a theme, and for 2016, it is Museums and Cultural Landscapes. The celebration of International Museum Day is growing with more than 35,000 museums participating in 2015.

International Museum Day was created back in 1977 during the International Council of Museums General Assembly in Moscow, “with the aim of further unifying the creative aspirations and efforts of museums and drawing the attention of the world public to their activity.” To honor this culturally historic day, I’d like to highlight six beautiful museums around the globe.

More information can be found on International Museum Day here and information about the International Council of Museums can be found here.

1. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain houses modern and contemporary art and remains an architectural beauty. American architect Frank Gehry designed the building with Bilbao’s urban landscape in mind.

Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain

“Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain” Photo credit: Arch_Sam via Foter.com / CC BY

2. The main entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France is the grand Louvre Pyramid which reflects light splendidly during the day and glows magically at night. This museum is one of the world’s largest and its iconic Louvre Pyramid entrance was designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.

"Entrance to Louvre Museum in Paris, France" Photo credit: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ via Foter.com / CC BY

“Louvre Museum in Paris, France” Photo credit: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ via Foter.com / CC BY

3. The National Museum of Art, Osaka in Japan continues to grow with over 6,000 works as of March 2011. The museum’s objective aims to preserve Japanese art and the relationship Japanese art has with the world.

"National Museum of Art in Osaka -- Japan" Photo credit: mith17 via Foter.com / CC BY

“National Museum of Art in Osaka — Japan” Photo credit: mith17 via Foter.com / CC BY

4. The Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand is a special museum for its historical offerings, especially in natural history and military history. The museum has undergone multiple renovations over the last two decades. There are parts of this museum which also serve as a war memorial, honoring those who died in both World Wars.

"Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand" Photo credit: AdamSelwood via Foter.com / CC BY

“Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand” Photo credit: AdamSelwood via Foter.com / CC BY

5. The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar showcases Islamic art from three continents and spans 1,400 years of work. This museum aims to safeguard Islamic culture through opening minds with Islamic art. The museum houses prayer rooms though it is not a religious institution.

"Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar" Photo credit: jikatu via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

“Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar” Photo credit: jikatu via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

6. The Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz has a futuristic design and houses more than just the aircraft museum. There is also a restaurant and bar where visitors can enjoy. This multipurpose building has a collection of airplanes, helicopters, and racing cars.

"Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria" Photo credit: heatheronhertravels via Foter.com / CC BY

“Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum in Salzburg, Austria” Photo credit: heatheronhertravels via Foter.com / CC BY

Are you planning to visit your local museum soon or an iconic museum far from home? Remember you can research museums and their countries in eLibrary and CultureGrams. Tell us about it in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Teaching World Cultures: Three ProQuest Resources

Why Study Culture?

“In today’s world, understanding both our similarities and our diversity becomes increasingly important. Through an understanding and appreciation of cultural difference, children will be better prepared to live in an ever-shrinking global community. And increasingly, our classrooms are becoming miniature models of the global community itself.”—Nancy Jervis, Ph.D., China Institute

The quote above shows just how vital it is for students to study culture.

Students need to be prepared for our increasingly interdependent, globalized and networked world. Migration and immigration are causing societies to become more culturally and linguistically diverse.  The nature of the workforce is changing as globalization continues to level the playing field for workers worldwide.  And many of today’s issues—ranging from climate change to public health to terrorism–have a global dimension, requiring people to work with others from different cultures and nations to solve such problems.

In the introduction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the authors identify the understanding of other perspectives and cultures as an essential feature for college and career readiness. Common Core Standards require students to read a variety of literature and informational texts and encourage a focus on deep research by asking students to gather information from multiple resources.

Below, I highlight three ProQuest resources to help meet CCSS literacy requirements and to develop increased cultural awareness in your students so that they are equipped for college and career.

Three ProQuest Resources:

1. CultureGrams contains primary and secondary source cultural content for more than 160 countries. There are four editions: the World Edition (for students in middle school and up) and the Kids, States, and Canadian Provinces editions (for students in upper elementary school).  Each country contains up-to-date information on the people and their customs and courtesies as well as facts on lifestyle (housing, diet, recreation, etc.) and society (government, economy, education, etc.).  Students can access interviews, videos, recipes, graphs, maps and more. The Curriculum Standards PDF shows all the of the national standards met or developed by each CultureGrams product.

Argentina

Screenshot of Argentina in CultureGrams

2. SIRS Issues Researcher contains a World Cultures Leading Issue with articles on multiple perspectives to help students with their research. The World Cultures Leading Issues, along with the hundreds of other Leading Issues, are crafted to help students analyze and synthesize a wide variety of resources and present a cogent argument.  Perfect for debates or papers covering more than one side to an issue, each sub issue contains an essential question with supporting pro/con articles.

World Cultures Leading Issue

Screenshot of World Cultures Leading Issue, SIRS Issues Researcher.

3. eLibrary has hundreds of culturally-relevant Research Topic pages, including ones on indigenous peoples, religious groups, ethnic foods, as well as many on literature and the arts, such as haiku and folk dance. These pages contain links to editorially-selected articles and websites as well as a trove of primary source documents, videos and images.  Here is a sampling of the type of eLibrary Research Topic pages relevant to the study of culture:

eLibrary Research Topic Pages

Collage of screenshots of three eLibrary Research Topic pages

How to Find Research Topic Pages:

Students can find these pages via keyword search or by clicking on the following link on the search page in eLibrary:

Research Topics link on the Basic Search page

Screenshot of eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Tell Us What You’re Doing!

Are you using ProQuest to help your students learn about different cultures? Did you create a lesson plan using one of our products? If so, we’d love to here about it! Let us know in the comment box below.

 

SKS Spotlight of the Month: National American Indian Heritage Month

Before Europeans arrived on North American soil, Native Americans had lived and prospered on the rich, diverse land for thousands of years. By the time colonization programs began in the late 16th century, disease brought by explorers and colonists had devastated Native American tribes along the eastern coast. Many died.

Native Americans at a Powwow <br /> by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Native Americans at a Powwow
by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

As history shows us, European colonization and settlement continued across the United States as wars ravaged tribes and destroyed relationships between the natives and newcomers. It is a history fraught with violence and emotion.

In the mid 19th-century–a mere 164 years ago–the federal government took action to promote peace between Native American tribes and European settlers. The Indian Appropriations Act created Indian reservations in the region of Oklahoma, an effort that instigated anger, erupting in more battles and wars.

The Indian New Deal of 1934 provided additional rights to native tribes and allowed and encouraged these tribes to govern themselves. Some compensation programs paid reparations for lost lands and broken tribes, but not all of these programs were successful. Throughout the 20th century, Native American activist groups struggled for rights and causes significant to their people.

In the 21st century, Native Americans are revered for their beautiful cultures and remembered for their harmonious connection with the land and nature. But issues facing native peoples and tribes remain unsettled. Many people feel strongly that the deep wounds afflicted on these populations are not healed. Economic, emotional, and social difficulties continue to plague Native American tribes living on Indian reservations. Hot-button issues persist in mainstream American culture, such as the controversy surrounding the Redskins and their team name and mascot.

This November, be sure to celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month. Engage your students in the incredibly important history of Native Americans. Introduce them to significant native people of the past, such as Red Cloud, Squanto, Crazy Horse, and Sacajawea. Teach them about the ways and cultures of tribes, such as Cherokee, Cree, and Iroquois. Help foster in your students a love and appreciation for Native American art and customs. Join SKS and its November SKS Spotlight of the Month in emphasizing the significance of the great heritage and complicated history of Native Americans.

CultureGrams–Regional Quiz: Oceania

An outer island man holds his granddaughter’s hand while they walk down the street. Grandparents are respected figures and are generally cared for by extended family members. (Colonia, Yap, Micronesia, November 2012)  Image Source: Karyn Sorenson

A Yapese man holds his granddaughter’s hand while walking across a street. (Colonia, Yap, Micronesia, November 2012)
Image Source: Karyn Sorenson

Oceania encompasses Australia, the world’s smallest continent, and the Pacific Islands, consisting of some 25,000 islands in more than 20 nations and territories. How much do you know about the region of Oceania? Test your knowledge with these tidbits from CultureGrams:

1. Australia has more of this marsupial than people.

2. The Lord of the Rings films were shot entirely on what island nation?

3. Which country in the South Pacific has the last Polynesian monarchy?

4. Traditional Samoan feasts are prepared in an underground oven called a ____?

5. What is the national flower of Fiji?

6. What mineral is a major export in New Caledonia?

7.  True or False: The lava-lava (traditional skirt)  is worn by both men and women?

8. What does the term Micronesia mean?

9. Which island nation is the smallest in Oceania?

10. What is the most prominent religion in Oceania?

 

Check your answers in the comments section. 

-Jenni Boyle

The First Kwanzaa

(Credit: The Official Kwanzaa Web Site)

The first Kwanzaa, an African American celebration of life, was celebrated in 1966. Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means “first fruits of the harvest.” Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa as a way to bring African-Americans together, and emphasize the role of the family and community in African-American culture.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1) honors a different principle–unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. A different candle on a seven-branched candle holder (kinara) is lit each day. Three candles on the left are green; three on the right are red; and in the middle is a black candle. These three colors were important symbols in ancient Africa. Green represents the fertile land of Africa; black is for the color of the people; and red stands for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom. Along with the seven principles (nguzo saba) and the seven days of Kwanzaa, there are seven symbols that are used to represent the meaningful themes of the holiday. These seven items are arranged in an area set up as a Kwanzaa altar or table in the home. The celebration also includes the giving of gifts and a karamu, or African feast, held on December 31.

ProQuest’s SIRS Knowledge Source allows educators and students to learn more about the history and traditions of Kwanzaa by exploring resources like these:

More Cultural Than Religious, Kwanzaa Rooted in Tradition

Why We Celebrate–or Don’t Celebrate–Kwanzaa

Rooted in Africa, but Made in U.S.A.

Why the Arts and Humanities Matter

What skills do students most need to succeed in the twenty-first century? And how can we best help them acquire those skills? In today’s global economy, a well-rounded education that encompasses the arts and humanities is vital. According to Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, success in tomorrow’s workplace will depend on mastering qualities that cannot be easily outsourced or automated; in other words, right-brain traits such as creativity, empathy, and the ability to inspire and persuade.

SIRS Renaissance was created out of the belief that the arts and humanities aren’t a luxury but a necessary part of a complete education. From literary criticism and profiles of prominent authors to interviews with contemporary painters, filmmakers, poets, dramatists, composers and more, SIRS Renaissance promotes self-directed research, deep and meaningful engagement, critical thinking and an expanded worldview. Containing editorially-selected articles that support and align to the Common Core standards, as well as full-color graphics, including art reproductions, photographs and illustrations, SIRS Renaissance helps students engage their “right brain” and develop the knowledge and creative skills that will give them the edge in the twenty-first century workplace.