Flow is a diverse company, with staff from various backgrounds and cultures. We also work with clients from around the world. For Heritage Day, we take a light look at a few interesting facts about heritage and culture from some of the countries where we have clients.
But first we asked Flow subeditor and writer Willem Steenkamp, who has a broad interest in history and culture, to give his definition of what he believes heritage is.
“‘Heritage’ is a word that has its roots in the concept of inheritance,” he says. “It comprises a person or a group’s inherited traditions, monuments, objects and culture. In essence, each of us lives out our heritage through the language we speak, the foods we believe are traditional to us, the forefathers we hold up as heroes, what traditional costume we consider ours, and the places and historical events we deem sacred in some way.”
Now let’s travel around the world.
The San people, the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, have lived in Botswana for many thousands of years. Botswana means “place of the Tswana”. The word pula, Setswana for rain, is featured as the motto on the country’s coat of arms, and the word is called out frequently at public gatherings as a salute and cry of approbation. The pula is also the currency of Botswana.
More than 250 ethnic groups call Nigeria home. Nigeria has a long and rich literary history and Nigerians are traditionally regarded as storytellers. Wole Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, is regarded as Nigeria’s most famous writer. Nigeria is also renowned for its sculpture.
Germany has made a major contribution to classical music, with famous German composers including Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. The country’s big beer festival, the Oktoberfest, originated in 1810, with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
Wooden clogs, lace caps, tulips and windmills are often thought of as synonymous with the Netherlands. Did you know that every year since 2012, special commemorative coins have been issued celebrating Dutch world heritage – the Netherlands currently has 10 Unesco World Heritage Sites. Renowned Dutch artists include Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Hieronymus Bosch, Johannes Vermeer, Willem Heda and Willem Kalf.
The Danish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. The first Danes were hunters and fishermen who are believed to have migrated from Southern and Eastern Europe by the end of the last Ice Age. Heard of the word hygge (pronounced “hooga”)? We have the Danes to thank for it. It is hard to describe, but is a Danish way of life centred around time together with family and close friends where you celebrate the small joys in life and take things slowly.
The Finns are among the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, and have been for decades, according to the Finland Promotion Board, which also states that there are 181 adult education centres in Finland, operating across the length and breadth of the country and open to everyone, regardless of educational background. Saunas are a big part of national culture, with an estimated two million of them across the country.
“France doesn’t just have culture; the word ‘culture’ actually comes from France,’’ according to an article on Live Science. Brittanica.com states that French culture is derived from an ancient civilisation composed of a complex mix of Celtic, Greco-Roman and Germanic elements. Mention France, and we think of high fashion, art and architecture, as well as cuisine – think croissants and boeuf bourguignon. French fries, however, are not originally from France.
In addition to the indigenous people of the Americas, the population of the United States was built on immigration from other countries and, because of this, is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Did you know the United States has no official language?
We hope that, no matter where you are, you get to celebrate your heritage and culture with joy and pride.
Happy Heritage Day, South Africa!