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Global Village Vibe — Celebrations and events from around the world
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USA, International

June 14, 2014 is World Juggling Day, and events celebrating the art of juggling will be celebrated in countries around the world. The International Jugglers’ Association is holding its 67th annual Juggling Festival at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana on July 28 – August 3, 2014 to showcase this art form.

The week-long festivities will feature juggling exhibitions, workshops, competitions and shows during the event. Jugglers will show off their skills to the public, and will compete for the prestige of their fellow artists. On one day, hundreds of schoolchildren will gather to participate in an introduction to juggling that will perhaps “plant the juggling seed” and produce future juggling stars.

What’s more fun at a circus or street festival than to see a skilled juggler (a solo performer or a team) tossing clubs, balls, or any other items high in the air and catching them without “dropping the ball”? Even if you’re not a juggler yourself, this sounds like a great and different form of wholesome entertainment for young and old!

Check it out:

Juggling for the Complete Klutz. These are the world’s most user-tested juggling directions, taking readers from the absolute beginning (Step One: The Drop) all the way to Five-Object Juggling. Comes with three juggling balls.

Juggling: From Start to Star. Have you always wanted to juggle but never thought you could learn how? Now you can with Juggling and the help of the famous Finnigan family, who demonstrate their techniques and secret tricks to develop juggling ability. Includes more than 250 photos to illustrate techniques.

Ghana

The West African country of Ghana celebrates Republic Day on July 1, which commemorates the day they became a republic of the British Commonwealth. To achieve that status, Ghana’s history took many twists and turns.

Ghana first got its name from being a part of the West African Ghana Empire during medieval times (c. 790-1076), which was inhabited by several ancient tribal kingdoms. The part of that empire that is now modern-day Ghana was one of the most culturally advanced regions in sub-Saharan Africa at that time. It was mainly inhabited by the Ashanti people, who were prominent because of the wealth of natural resources (mainly gold) in that region.

Early contact from Portuguese and British merchants focused on trading in gold, prompting the British to name the area the “Gold Coast.” The Portuguese expanded their trading to include ivory and slaves, and built Elmina Castle as a fort to secure their holdings there. By the late 1500s, the Dutch also joined in the trade. Eventually, about 30 forts (or “slave castles”) were built along the coast of Ghana, as the slave trade grew.

By the late 1800s, most of the European traders had left the area, with only the Dutch and British remaining. After the Dutch withdrew, Britain made Gold Coast a colony in 1896, until the country changed its name to Ghana when it became the first African colony in the British Empire to gain its independence on March 6, 1957.

Republic Day marks the date (July 1, 1960) when Ghana achieved political autonomy from Britain and became a republic and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Ghana is one of the most advanced sub-Saharan African nations, and has been a positive example of stability and economic success for the continent.

Celebrations of Republic Day are mainly observed with political speeches and public gatherings. Of course, the celebrations would not be complete without music, dancing and drinking at these gatherings all across Ghana. Republic Day is a celebration of Ghana and its long and colorful history. Cheers!

Check it out:

Ghana, 6th (Bradt Travel Guide). Bradt’s Ghana has remained the bestselling guide to the country since it was first published in 1998, being used by almost every English-speaking visitor there. Visitors will discover a country steeped in a rich cultural tradition and little-visited attractions. Ghana is an uncrowded place to go for game-viewing with Mole National Park and Baobeng Monkey Sanctuary, among the highlights.

Ghana – Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs and culture. This book provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in Ghana, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. This concise guide tells you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships.

Africa

Africa Day, celebrated on May 25, is the anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. The purpose of this group was to promote African solidarity and progress all across the continent. The organization was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the current African Union (AU), which serves the same purpose. At this time, more than 50 African countries participate in the AU, and meetings of delegates from the countries are held twice a year. The only African country that is not a member of the AU is Morocco. Several countries are under suspension due to coups d’etat or other actions not sanctioned by the AU.

The main objectives of the AU are to promote communication and foster cooperation among African countries who have common economic and societal goals such as the prosperity, health and well-being of African people, as well as promoting peace and security throughout Africa. By working together, they can achieve much more than if each country worked independently to accomplish their objectives. The organization appears to function much in the same way, with the same goals, as the European Union (EU), although the AU’s power and influence on the rest of the world are not as far-reaching and influential as the EU’s at this point.

Even though the Organization of African Unity no longer exists, the original date of May 25 has been kept, and Africa Day is observed as a day to celebrate African unity throughout the continent.

Check it out:

Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity. This book was written as Africa was just realizing independence and still reveling in the optimism it brought. Immanuel Wallerstein was one of the few scholars who had traveled throughout Africa during the collapse of colonial rule. As a result, he captures the dynamism of that period of transformation and analyzes Africa’s modern political developments during the process of decolonization.

Australia

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated throughout Australia from May 27-June 3 to honor the rich cultural heritage of the Indigenous Australians (also called Aborigines, although that term is becoming less popular). The celebration began with faith-based groups in 1993 as the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation, and was expanded to the current nationally recognized celebration in 1996. NRW coincides with two significant dates in Australia’s history which relate to the native people of Australia. May 27 is the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, in which parts of the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Indigenous Australians were deleted, and June 3 is the date in 1992 which recognized the Native Title rights of the indigenous people as the original inhabitants of Australia.

This continent-wide cultural celebration is similar to the recognition and celebration of Native American culture and traditions in the United States, although there is not a national day or week set aside for formal recognition as Australia does. In the US, especially in areas where there are large concentrations of native peoples (the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma, the “land of the Red Man,” comes to mind), many local and regional Native American festivals are held annually.

I have always been fascinated by indigenous cultures and traditions, and am delighted to see that Australia has embraced and honored their native peoples with an annual week of celebration and recognition. Hopefully, this celebration will continue to shine a light on the valuable and sometimes fragile nature of the culture of the First Australians, and keep their welfare in the public eye for the preservation of their traditions and heritage well into the future.

Check it out:

Australian Dreaming: 40,000 years of Aboriginal History. The first Aboriginal history of the Australian continent and its people, as told by Aboriginal storytellers. It recounts epic travels of the Great Spirit Ancestors and tells how they created the animals and plants and gave birth to the earliest people of this land.

Elders: Wisdom from Australia’s Indigenous Leaders. This book chronicles the wisdom of Indigenous peoples and their traditional and contemporary ways of living. A series of chapters authored by tribal elders from various parts of Australia is supplemented by the author’s visually stunning photography.

Mexico, United States

Cinco de Mayo (“Fifth of May” in Spanish) is a national holiday in Mexico; however, it is celebrated mainly in the state of Puebla. It commemorates the unlikely victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French expeditionary forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Even though outnumbered by more than 1,000 men, Zaragoza’s forces prevailed against the better-armed French soldiers, assisted by their familiarity with the local terrain and a stampede of cattle set off by local residents.

In the United States (especially in the Southwest), Cinco de Mayo has evolved more into a general celebration of Mexican/Latino heritage, much like St. Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish ancestry. People of all ethnicities celebrate the day of fun and good cheer with Mexican food, folk dances and colorful costumes. Instead of green beer, margaritas are the favorite drink of the day. Olé! Let the party begin!

Check it out:

Cinco De Mayo Barbie Doll. The Cinco De Mayo Barbie doll wears a beautiful folkloric dress with ruffles and ribbons inspired by the colors of the Mexican flag. A traditional hairstyle with braids and festive embellishments add the final touch.

Burro Piñata. It isn’t a party until candy and toys rain from the sky. Fill this piñata with your preferred candy and small toys (filler not included). Measures 23″x12″x6″ and comes with a built-in, sturdy plastic loop for hanging. Suggested for up to eight kids or four adults.

Viva Mexico!: The Story of Benito Juarez and Cinco De Mayo (Stories of America). Grades 2-4. An easy biography combined with a brief and accurate explanation of the Battle of Puebla, which occurred during Juarez’s presidency and is the basis for the holiday celebrated on the fifth of May.