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World Day of Cultural Diversity – 10 Wonderful Cultural Traditions

20 May 2022 · Jaden Bishop

World Day of Cultural Diversity

On May 21st, we celebrate the ‘World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’. In the spirit of the day, we would like you to join us in celebrating the culture of our wonderfully diverse team here at PAB Languages.

 After sparking a team discussion and receiving some amazing suggestions, we have put together a list of cultural practices and traditions that our colleagues at PAB Languages love to celebrate each year!  

1.         St. Andrew’s Day – Romania: In the Romanian culture, the celebrations of St. Andrew’s Day mirror those of the traditional western Halloween celebrations, where people use garlic to ward off evil spirits. On this one day of the year, garlic breath is a saviour, protecting loved ones from wolves and Strigoi, a fearsome living dead warrior. Furthermore, being bitten by a wolf would supposedly turn you into a werewolf, so save yourselves and cook up some garlicky deliciousness. 

2.         Summer Solstice – Latvia: The night of June 23rd is a special one for all Latvians, as they celebrate Jāņi, where they partake in Solstice festivities marking the start of summer. It is a celebration of nature and a time to enjoy great food and the company of your loved ones. The fun starts with leaping bonfires, wandering the fields and making garlands out of oak leaves. The night is filled with laughter and traditional songs can be heard until the sun first rises, a sight Latvians greet with rolling down hills and jumping into ice-cold rivers.

3.         Well Dressings – Peak District: This tradition is fuelled by community spirit and creativity. When it is underway the local town members work together to create large natural mosaics from flora displayed in large clay frames near wells and springs of water. These displays are kept up until the clay cracks and the collage returns to nature.

4.         Semana Santa – Latin America: Semana Santa is a widely celebrated tradition. Typically taking place over the Easter Weekend, the tradition celebrates the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ, with people dressing in black veils to honour and mourn his passing, alongside depictions of his passions across the cities.

5.         Bridgwater Festival – Somerset: The Bridgwater Festival is one of the largest illuminated carnivals in Europe and is a true spectacle to behold. Held in the first week of November, crowds start ‘Squibbing’, a tradition of putting a firework on a pole over your head as they set off, a display that sets the sky alight…. and potentially a hair or two. 

6.         Wassailing – UK: A more rural celebration, Wassailing is a tradition that dates to the Anglo-Saxon period and has participants blessing the oldest tree with toasts and revelry to bless the orchard with a bountiful harvest, as well as warding off evil spirits. It is a marking of the changing of seasons, and a celebration of the passing of time, which is often accompanied by music, ciders, and a general feeling of happiness.

7.         St. Patrick’s Day – Ireland: A celebration famous around the world for many as an excuse to drink alcohol, for those within Ireland, the celebration is more culturally grounded. The nation embraces its rich culture, turning everything green, the national colour of the nation. Additionally, many scale up the mountain of Croagh Patrick, a feat performed by many on the last Sunday of July, to honour their cultural heritage.

8.         April Fools – France: Not all cultural celebrations have to be deeply rooted in history; sometimes it can just be a bit of good fun. Around the traditional Easter Period, the children of France partake in April Fools, where they cut out paper fish and attempt to stick them to the backs of passers-by. A simple bit of fun that doesn’t hurt or harm anybody!

9.         Wet Monday – Poland: Easter Monday has another cultural precedent, this time in Poland. This is a cultural event in two halves; first, it is the males who soak the females in water, even going as far as to wake up late sleepers with a deluge of water. The next day, however, it is time for revenge, as the females soak the males in water. Fortunately, the gender restrictions have lifted over time, and now Wet Monday is just a free-for-all soak fest!

10.       May Morning – Oxford: The first day of May is a special one for the people of Oxford. At 6 am crowds gather at the Magdalen Tower and along the high street, whereupon they sing hymns and fall into festivities after around 20 minutes of bell tolls. This celebration dates back over 500 years and has been featured in multiple pieces of common media most notably the 1993 film Shadowlands, telling the life of one fellow of the Magdalen Tower, Mr. C.S. Lewis.

At PAB Languages we understand the importance of embracing the diversity of cultural traditions from around the world, and we’d like to thank our colleagues for sharing their memories, experiences, and funny anecdotes to help share their experiences with our readers. 

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