Posts Tagged ‘World Edition’

CultureGrams: Eid al-Adha


Livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha celebrations for over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The holiday, meaning “Festival of the Sacrifice”, commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and is celebrated during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. People visit friends and family and exchange gifts. Many families slaughter a sheep on this day as a symbol of the story of Abraham. Tens of millions of animals are sacrificed around the world in the first two days of the celebration. Families who cannot afford their own animal may join other families and pool their money together to buy an animal. The meat from the sacrifice is shared with family and friends, but a portion must also be reserved for the poor.


A street vendor makes food at the livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

The holiday takes place following the the Muslim Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, the government declares a 12-day holiday that includes the days of the Hajj and the following Eid al-Adha holiday. Traditionally, Eid al-Adha festivities lasted about 4 days. Today, celebrations range in length between different countries–ranging from as little as 3 days (in the Philippines), 9 days (in Gulf states) and 12 days (Saudi Arabia). Learn more about some of the different countries that celebrate Eid al-Adha with CultureGrams: see Egypt, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Albania, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

CultureGrams: One Religion, Many Practices


Mir-e Arab Mosque, Bukhara, Uzbekistan by Robert Wilson (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Did you know that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide? Across this massive group, there is a considerable range of religious practice and doctrinal interpretation. Catholicism and Buddhism have similarly large and diverse populations whose adherents can be found in very different geographic regions and societies. To better understand how religious belief impacts people, students need to understand that most religions have a range of beliefs and practices. The following activity from the CultureGrams Activities PDF helps students to explore differences within one religion across different cultures.


Mosque in Isfahan, Iran by Babak Farrokhi (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Teaching Activity: One Religion, Many Practices

Time requirement
Preparation: 10 minutes
In-class : 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Research and Writing
Grade level: 6–8; can be modified for other age groups
Objective: Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.

Materials: CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. Some options are Islam (Qosimov: Uzbekistan, Djiba: Senegal, and Joud: Jordan), Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique), and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia).
2. What differences do students notice in the way the interviewees practice their religion? Differences may be found in how often a person attends worship services, how important they consider religion in their life, ways they worship, and holidays they celebrate.
3. Now have students read the Religion section of each interviewee’s country in the World Edition report. What do these sections say about the religion? How does the information in the report compare to the information in the interviewees’ answers? How does the practice of the religion vary between countries?
4. Have students write a short essay on their observations about the ways a single religion varies in different areas and between individual observers of that religion. They may also speculate on why this could be.

*See pg. 55-56 of the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF  to view the education standards that are targeted in this activity.


Mosque in Bahrain by Denise Krebs (CC BY 2.0) via Fickr

CultureGrams: Faces of the World Interviews


Interview Page

Faces of the World Interview Page 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.

Kenya Interview Page via ProQuest CultureGrams

CultureGrams: Independence Day around the World

Fireworks [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Fireworks [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Happy Fourth of July! It’s fun to compare traditional American Independence Day celebrations, such as barbecues, parades, and fireworks, with Independence Day traditions from around the world. Enjoy the following descriptions, originating from Latin America, Europe, and Africa and visit CultureGrams Holiday sections to find more details about holiday celebrations around the world.

Bolivia: Independence Day, held on 6 August, is the anniversary of the establishment of the republic in 1825. Two days before, students participate in parades in the cities where they live. Some wear traditional clothing, and some participate in marching bands. The president then chooses one of these cities to be the site of the country’s official Independence Day celebrations and gives an official address to the country. More parades, these ones featuring people from various institutions and indigenous groups, take place as well. Later in the day, families often spend time together at a fair, amusement park, or festival.

Dominican Republic: On Restoration of Independence Day, Dominicans celebrate the restoration of their independence following a short period under Spanish rule (called La Anexion, from 1861 to 1863) less than a decade after gaining independence from Haiti. The holiday commemorates La Guerra de Restauracion (the War of Restoration) fought to regain the country’s independence. On this day, the president gives an official speech in honor of the holiday. Mes de la Patria ends with Independence Day celebrations, which include a military parade and a presidential address to the nation.

Guinea-Bissau: A few days before Independence Day celebrations, major streets are decorated with the country’s flags. Banners, billboards, and flyers depicting patriotic images and the national theme for the year’s celebration are also displayed. A special speech given by the president is broadcast all around the country. Individuals and organizations spend the day reflecting on the country’s challenges and ways to increase national development. Schools organize special programs that feature the heroes of independence.

Poland: Independence Day celebrates Poland’s independence gained in 1918. The holiday was banned under Soviet rule and reinstated after Poland regained its independence. The main Independence Day celebrations take place in Kraków and Warsaw and are broadcast throughout the country by radio and television. The day is celebrated with parades and speeches. Ceremonies honor Poles who died fighting for their country. Homes, businesses, and government buildings are decorated with Polish flags.

CultureGrams Activity: Create Your Own Flag

Students of all ages love creative projects where they can use their imaginations to create something that is both fun to make and is a reflection of their personalities. So if you’d like to find a creative educational project for your class, we have just the thing for you. This activity from our CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF provides an opportunity for students to learn about national flags and how they represent a country’s culture and values. Students will also have a chance to draw upon what they learn in studying national flags to create flags that represent their own values, interests, and culture.


Flag of Antigua and Barbuda via CultureGrams

Flag Creation

Objective Students will discuss the symbolism and meaning of various national flags and then create flags to represent themselves.

Grade level K–5

Time requirement

Preparation: 40 minutes

In-class: 50 hours


  • Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.
  • Various international flags (all are available in the CultureGrams Flag Gallery)


  1. Introduce the concept of flags as works of art that use color, design, and symbols to convey meaning.
  2. Show students the international flags you have selected and explain the symbols used on them. (If you have a subscription to CultureGrams, each country’s flag image and interpretation is available on its landing page.) For example, in the flag of South Africa, the colors symbolize the unity of the nation’s races. In the flag of the United Kingdom, the crosses represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the flag of Greece, the cross symbolizes the Greek Orthodox Church.
  3. Assign students to create a unique flag representing themselves, their family, or their city, state, or country of birth. Encourage them to find colors and symbols that stand for something important to them.
  4. Have students display their flags for the class and explain their use of color, symbolism, and design

CultureGrams has a Flag Gallery for both the World and Kids editions as well as for the States and Provinces editions. So there are plenty of flags for students to look at as examples.

Mother’s Day Around the World

“Mother and baby ducks” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know about any Mother’s Day traditions in other countries? This article gives some interesting facts about Mother’s Day in ten different countries. For example, did you know that in Japan, the carnation is also the main flower associated with Mother’s Day? Or that in the UK, Mother’s Day developed out of a tradition called Mothering Sunday that was celebrated as early as the 16th century? Or that many countries in the Arab world (including Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon) celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st, at the beginning of the spring equinox? Other traditions are sobering: in France, in the years following WWI, the government awarded medals to French mothers of large families–as a way of honoring them and their contribution to rebuilding France’s population following the war.  

While many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in ways similar to the US–including family gatherings, presents, and flowers, many celebrate mothers in other ways. For example, in Ethiopia, people honor mothers in the three-day Antrosht festival, which follows the fall rainy season. During this festival, communities gather to enjoy large meals and to sing and dance. In India, a festival called Durga Puja celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga, and lasts for several days. Explore different cultures and families in this National Geographic photo gallery of mothers and children around the world. Below is a bit more information about different Mother’s Day traditions from CultureGrams.

“Flag map of Thailand” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons


Several holidays celebrate the monarchy of Thailand. Celebrations include a national holiday for Queen Sirikit; her birthday (August 12th) is referred to as Mother’s Day, since the queen is revered as the mother of all Thai people.  Mother’s Day in Thailand honors both Queen Sirikit and Thai mothers. During the month of August, the streets and city centers are decorated with lights and feature large portraits of Queen Sirikit. The holiday is filled with parades and ceremonies. On Mother’s Day, people decorate their homes with flags, lights, and portraits of the queen. White jasmine flowers are common decorations as a symbol of maternal love and are a common Mother’s Day gift. Learn more about Thai culture and holidays with CultureGrams.

El Salvador

Mother’s Day is an important holiday for Salvadorans. Some schools host special breakfasts or brunches for mothers and, even before Mother’s Day was declared a state holiday in 2016, many schools dismissed their students to allow them to spend the day with their mothers. Mothers and grandmothers are given gifts and treated to one or more meals throughout the day. A popular way to recognize mothers is with a mariachi band hired to play and sing a few songs at the woman’s home, either in the morning or at night, during a dinner or party for the mother. Learn more about El Salvador with CultureGrams.


“Flag-map of El Salvador” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons









CultureGrams: Over 100 New Videos!

We’ve recently added 102 new videos to the CultureGrams video collection! These unique videos, produced by CultureGrams editors from footage submitted from contributors around the world, highlight many aspects of daily life and culture for 11 countries.

We’re offering two of these in full to non-subscribers via YouTube, so share with your colleagues and friends!

Kids collect water in the Central African Repbulic . . .

and musicians and dancers perform in Ethiopia.

You can also witness scenes from Burkina Faso’s revolution, attend a wedding in Cameroon, watch a dance competition in DR Congo, join the world in commemorating South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, shiver with ice swimmers in Hungary, ride the tube in the UK, and much more.

Special thanks to our prolific contributor Salym Fayad for providing beautiful, culturally important footage for so many of these videos.

All 728 videos in the CultureGrams collection are available for streaming and download. Feel free to incorporate these videos into presentations or use them for other educational purposes. Or watch them just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

Oral Traditions Around the World


The Storyteller [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Oral Literature Lesson Plan

In CultureGrams, students can learn more about cultures that have strong oral traditions. In the Oral.Literature  lesson plan that is part of our Teaching Activities PDF, students research specific country reports and discuss their findings, from Senegal to Mongolia. Also, in this CultureGrams video, students can watch an illustrated story told by a griot (traditional West Africa storyteller) from Senegal. 

Map and Explore

Teachers can help spark students’ interest in learning more about oral traditions by sharing examples from the Cambridge World Oral Literature Project. This interactive map highlights the locations available in the collection.

The project is rich in video and audio material documenting oral traditions of cultures around the world, some of whose languages are dying or at risk of disappearing. Students can see an example of the phenomenon of dying cultures and languages in this video about an anthropological linguist’s work in Greenland. The linguist describes his experience of trying to document a disappearing Inuit culture in northern Greenland. You can watch the full version of Aijakko Mitiq performing a traditional drum dance (featured in the above video) in this clip. The 67 year old belongs to the Inugguit (or Inughuit ) people of northern Greenland and is one of the few in his community that remember these traditional songs.


Students can get a glimpse into what storytelling looks like in different communities with the Cambridge video resources. Here, students can watch a Tanzanian storyteller perform the story of “The Headless Crab” for a group of children. Notice the interaction between the children and the storyteller. In this video, a woman from Zanzibar, Tanzania, uses music to express anger over abuses committed against women. Music is often a framework for storytelling. Have students explore the connection between music and storytelling as they look at examples from different countries and compare them with their own. 

Additional oral history resources from Cambridge can be found here.

CultureGrams: Behind-the-Scenes Content


At CultureGrams, we’re always adding new content to our product. A lot of it is easy to spot, whether it’s new Kids Edition reports, new slideshows, new gallery photos, new interviews, or new videos, but some it is somewhat less obvious, and you might not notice it unless you’re looking closely.

For instance, when we review a country, state, or province report text, we often revise sections to add additional culturally relevant and current information. These changes might not be as immediately noticeable as some of the other content we add, but they play a major part in giving our customers the most accurate view of life in a particular place.

One of the texts we recently reviewed was our World Edition Tanzania report. Here are just a few examples of new information we added to the report that you might have missed:

  • Dar es Salaam is known locally as Bongoland; the nickname is based on the Kiswahili word bongo (brain) because the city is seen as a place where one must use cunning and intelligence to survive.
  • A growing number of Chinese nationals have moved to the country in recent years in search of jobs. Their success in finding work has caused some resentment among native Tanzanians, spurring the government to require employers to fill positions with locals before hiring a foreigner.
  • When greeting older people or authority figures, Shikamo (literally, “I hold your feet”) is used, to which the answer is Maharaba (roughly, “I am delighted”).
  • Scheduled visits are considered flexible, with guests often arriving two or three hours late, if at all.
  • Women customarily serve the male members of the family, including male children old enough to eat independently, before they and the rest of the children eat.
  • In some tribes, girls may be promised to an older male at birth and sometimes are sent to live with their future husband’s family when they are as young as eight or nine.
  • Three-wheeled vehicles called bajajis and motorcycle taxis called boda-boda are popular forms of transport.

We also added a new Tanzania recipe for dagaa (a fish-based sauce) and a new Famous People entry (for Bi Kidude, an influential taarab singer).

Quiet though these additions may be, they really help shape CultureGrams into the valuable, accurate cultural resource it is. Other reports we’ve reviewed so far this year include Kids Edition Algeria, China, and Tanzania; World Edition Brazil; Provinces Edition Prince Edward Island and Québec; and States Edition Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, and Texas. Check them out if you haven’t already!

CultureGrams—Sub-Saharan Africa Quiz


A woman in Madagascar digs for water in a dry riverbed. Photo by Salym Fayad.

How much do you know about the region of Sub-Saharan Africa? Test your knowledge with these tidbits from CultureGrams (if you need help, search the CultureGrams site!):

1. Which country is the world’s fourth largest island?


2. Which country was the first African nation to host the soccer World Cup?

South Africa

3. On which island nation was it tradition to gift newborns with baby giant tortoises?


4. Which country is home to the majority of gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa?

Burkina Faso

5. Which African nation is the world’s newest country?

South Sudan

6. Which nation produces more cocoa beans than any other country?

Côte d’Ivoire

7. In which country did archeologists discover Lucy, one of the oldest hominid skeletons ever found?


8. Freed U.S. slaves established coastal settlements in 19th century in which country?

South Africa

9. Which country has the largest population in Sub-Saharan Africa?


10. Which country is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world?

The Gambia