Grab a passport from one of the Festival of Nations Information Booths and interact with our ethnic participants in our Cultural Exhibits area. Each booth is created by an ethnic group based on the year’s theme. The 2018 theme is: Now & Then: Exploring Historical and Contemporary Cultural Traditions. This is an incredible opportunity to discover more about how cultural traditions have evolved throughout the years. You can also travel the world under one roof with a “passport” in our cultural exhibit area!
2018 EXHIBITS*: Austrian, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Carpatho-Rusyn, Chinese, Colombian, Croatian, Czech & Slovak, Danish, Dutch, Egyptian, Finnish, French, Greek, Guatemalan, Haitian, Hmong, Hungarian, Indian, Iraqi, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Moroccan, Nepalese, Palestinian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Sri Lankan, Sudanese, Taiwanese, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish & Ukrainian.
*This information is subject to change, so please check back for updates.
Featured Cultural Exhibit Initiative
Each year, the Festival’s Cultural Exhibits create their area based on the year’s theme. In 2017 the theme was: Ceremonies & Rituals and the Exhibits are encouraged to submit proposals to become a Featured Cultural Exhibit for that year. Proposals are reviewed by a panel of judges based on specific criteria. After the proposal review, four Featured Exhibits are chosen and provided a stipend to aid in the development and design of their exhibits.
2017 Featured Cultural Exhibits
DUTCH CULTURAL EXHIBIT
KAASMARKT: Traditional Dutch Cheese Market
There are five cheese markets operating in the Netherlands. Woerden is a modern working commercial cheese market. Four, Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam and Hoorn, are similar to traditional post-medieval merchant cheese markets and are re-enacted during the summer months for tourists. The shows are today surrounded by stalls selling all things traditional to the Dutch culture, including cheese. Dutch cheese farmers traditionally brought their cheeses to the market square in town to sell. Teams (vemen) of official guild cheese-porters (kaasdragers), identified by differently coloured straw hats associated with their forwarding company, carried the farmers’ cheese on barrows, which typically weighed about 160 kilograms. Buyers then sampled the cheeses and negotiated a price using a ritual system called handjeklap in which buyers and sellers clap each other’s hands and shout prices. Once a price is agreed, the porters carry the cheese to the weighing house (Waag), and scale of their company.
IRAQI CULTURAL EXHIBIT
Traditional Iraqi Wedding Ceremonies & Rituals
In 2017, the Iraqi Cultural Exhibit featured elements of the diverse Iraqi engagement and wedding ceremonies from the different regions and religions of Iraq. The group created a unique experience by building a tent adorned with lights and fabric, playing traditional music, and displaying traditional trays of spices and food. Attendees could also witness the reenactment of several traditional ceremonies and rituals.
THAI CULTURAL EXHIBIT
Royal Ploughing Ceremony: Auspicious & Bountiful Crop Blessing
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony dates back over seven hundred years since the Kingdom of Sukothai. It is a nationwide ceremony held annually in May. The goals are to promote the bountifulness of crops, predict the weather and crop yield, and strengthen the morale and confidence of farmers. Importantly, the event sustains the bond among the King, the Thai government, and Thai farmers who represent the backbone of the country. There are two rituals in the Royal Ploughing Ceremony: Cultivating and Ploughing. In the Cultivating ritual, the Lord of the Harvest, the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, blesses the rice paddy, seeds, and other crops that will be used in the Ploughing ritual the next day. The King blesses the Lord of the Harvest with a ceremonial ring and sword.
TURKISH CULTURAL EXHIBIT
Kina Gucesi (Turkish Bachelorette Party)
Traditionally, henna night, or kina gecesi (kuh-NAH GE-je-see) is a women’s party that usually takes place the night before the wedding. The bride’s closest friends and female family members gather to eat, dance, and sing. They put henna on their hands. The stains it leaves on their hands for weeks afterwards tell everyone that they are a new bride, or have been to a close friend or family-member’s wedding. Traditionally, and still for many brides, it is a melancholic evening. The following day, the bride will leave her father’s house, where she has lived all her life, to live in her new husband’s house. It can be both sad and scary for the brides, and at the very least is the end of an era. There is a song that is sung especially at henna nights which demonstrates the melancholy. It is called “Yuksek Tepelere”
In addition to the Featured Cultural Exhibits chosen by the panel of judges, we also asked students and the general public to vote on their favorites. In 2017, the Taiwanese group was chosen by both groups.
TAIWANESE CULTURAL EXHIBIT
Traditional Taiwanese Marriage Ceremonies
Marriage ceremonies in Taiwan are heavily influence by the cultural characteristics of Southern China. One of the chief cultural features of this region is a strongly patriarchal form of the ancestor worship and philosophy of reverence from heaven. It can be said that the traditional marriage system in Taiwan mainly exists for the purpose of fulfilling the demands of the underlying abstract cultural beliefs, and from this system specific marriage rituals have emerged.