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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!

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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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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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: International Women’s Day (March 8)

Women in Kenya (photo via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery)

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 (this Wednesday) around the world. Learn how it’s observed in various countries from CultureGrams:

  • Burkina Faso: On International Women’s Day, official celebrations are held in cities. Many Burkinabè, especially women, dress up in a fabric designed each year for the event. People also celebrate by going to bars to drink, eat, and dance.
  • Kyrgyzstan: On International Women’s Day, men give gifts to the women in their lives, including grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, classmates, co-workers, and wives or girlfriends.
  • Mauritania: International Women’s Day is celebrated in each regional capital with a fair at which women’s cooperatives from the surrounding area display and sell their goods. A ceremony is held and includes speeches by government leaders. Many development organizations present awareness campaigns.
  • Ukraine: On International Women’s Day, everyone gets the day off work. Women receive flowers and gifts, as well as household help from their husbands. Special attention is paid to mothers, and girls are congratulated as future women.
  • Madagascar: International Women’s Day is celebrated across Madagascar, even in small villages. The day’s events typically include a gathering at the mayor’s office, where women’s groups perform traditional dances for the town’s officials in return for a small monetary gift. Women in the northeastern part of the island commonly wear matching blouses and lamba (long cotton wraps). They often make noise using whistles and condensed-milk cans fashioned into rattles.

Women in Voloina, Madagascar, celebrate International Women’s Day (photo via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery)

Learn more about holidays around the world from the Holidays section of World and Kids edition CultureGrams reports!

CultureGrams—Where in the world?: Transportation

Modes of transportation are influenced by many factors, including economic resources, population density, geography, climate, and tradition. If you’re from the United States, you probably get around primarily in a private vehicle, but that’s only one of many modes of transportation used every day by people around the world.

The following photos are from the CultureGrams photo gallery.

Can you guess where each photo was taken?

Photo 1

Photo 1

 

Photo 2

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Photo 3

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Photo 4

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Photo 5

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Photo 7

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Photo 8

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Photo 9

Photo 9

uae

Photo 10

uk

Photo 11

vietnam

Photo 12

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. Each image in our slideshow gallery and photo gallery is downloadable and available for personal use.

CultureGrams–New Expanded Texts

At CultureGrams, editors continuously verify and update the content in our World, Kids, States, and Provinces reports during several different processes.  One process is an Expansion, which involves working with several natives or long-term residents in a country to increase the length and breadth of perspective of each reports’ cultural content. Recently,  I added two new expanded World texts: Israel and Oman. Sections like Family, Housing, Dating and Marriage, Life Cycle, Diet, Recreation, Holidays, and Education underwent the most change. Just see for yourself.

Before:

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After:

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During Expansions, we also update and add to our Recipes, Famous People, and Photo collections. Over the weekend, I decided to try out one of our newest recipes from Israel, cholent! Cholent (also known as dafina in North Africa) is a traditional Jewish stew that is prepared before the Jewish Sabbath on Friday evening and is kept heated on a warm stove top, oven, or crockpot until a Saturday afternoon or evening meal. I made my cholent in a crockpot on Saturday and ate it for Sunday dinner. It was absolutely delicious!

cholentedit

Check out the recipe for cholent and more here.

Have you noticed CultureGrams’ country reports getting bigger? What new recipes, famous people, and photos do you enjoy? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

-Jenni Boyle