Sunday, November 28, 2010

What no Dutch or British Heritage?

Flamenco Dresses by Simon Gurney

What do throat singing, French food, carpet weaving, flamenco, hopping through the streets and oil wrestling have in common? They are all new additions to UNESCO's Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO's world heritage sites I knew about - this list is a whole new ball game.

These lists have been compiled for the fifth time and incorporate threatened traditions and cultural activities across the world. Sixteen such traditions have been placed on the 'List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding' (I seriously couldn't make this stuff up).

I am happy however to report that our neighbours, Belgium, has had three cultural events added to the list: Houtem Jaarmarkt (the annual winter fair and livestock market at Sint-Lievens-Houtem), Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrand, (an end-of-winter bread and fire feast at Geraardsbergen) and the Aalst carnival. The gastronomic meal of the French has taken pride of place on the list and has attracted a lot of comment form the world's media. Iran and Spain have also been significant contributors.

Here's the explanation from the press release from UNESCO about the French dinner:
"France - The gastronomic meal of the French - The gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice for celebrating important moments in the lives of individuals and groups, such as births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, achievements and reunions. It is a festive meal bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking. The gastronomic meal emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature."

Like what fonduing is to the Dutch then? Hmmm.....

However, on the list of additions for 2010, there is nothing for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom has also contributed zilch to the list. In fact, I can't find any submissions in the last three years (and can't find any list before that) by either my host or home country. Are the Dutch and British without cultural heritage worthy of the list? What about clog dancing, windmill building, morris dancing and beer making? The British pub lunch? Dutch snacks - the renowned bitterballen? I could go on....... amusing myself... but instead I'll ask you...

What Dutch or British cultural heritage do you think should be on these lists? 

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