Post Tagged with "culture"

What defines a culture?

Does food and dress only define a culture? In today’s modern world, which is becoming ever more globalised, newer dimensions are being attributed to the word culture all the time.

Today a country is not only attributed by its typically peculiar food or dressing habits as internet has penetrated the world over and the global fashion statement is now collected from worldwide elements. Today women in New York working in Vanuatu dress won’t raise eyebrows the least bit. The global brand or so called cultural marketing and branding is taking the definition of culture to a whole new level.


October 10, 2012 Comments disabled

The Fête des Remparts in Dinan – Brittany

The Fête des Remparts is a medieval festival that takes place every other year in Dinan, the home town of Bertrand Duguesclin, one of the most famous medieval characters in French history.

This year’s festival was held on 21-22 July.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - One is never too young to participate...

It was created in 1983 by the Society of Friends of the Museum and Library of Dinan, with the help of the Tourist Office and the support of the municipality of Dinan.

Fete des Remparts - Place des Merciers in Dinan

The festival has a different theme each time: 2012 was “Réjouissances princières et liesse populaire – Princely festivities and jubilant crowds”.

The theme of the next festival which will take place on 19-20 July 2014 will be “Inventions and Discoveries”.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - one of the many outstanding costumes seen in the streets

People are encouraged to dress up with medieval costumes for the occasion.

Hiring a costume allows free access to the many shows organized on that weekend such as jousting, medieval markets, open-air dances. The festival ends up with a great parade.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - a cute little dog...

The Fête des Remparts de Dinan takes the visitors back in time and the century old timber framed houses are a perfect settings for it. We are back in the Middle-Ages.

The spectacle is also in the streets, and it is really difficult to chose the best costume! I let you judge…


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April Frost and Three Saints known as Lune Rousse and Saints de Glace in France

Summer Solstice celebrations in France

About French Wooden Clogs


August 17, 2012 2 comments

Photo Essay: Okinawan Sumo Wrestling

Photo Credit: Visit Okinawa

Sumo Wrestling (Shima) in Okinawa is different from Japanese Sumo.


July 13, 2012 9 comments

Myth or Reality about Brazil – Part 1

It is undeniably true that every country has a certain national ethos, one that is part of our identity. However, there is a thin line between of what it means to be from a certain nationality and what it is a stereotypical view of a group of people.
We will take a tour around the globe to try to dispel myths and understand different realities.

This is the kick-off of a new series in Topics of the World that will feature what is myth and what is reality in relation to our countries. I’ll start with Brazil, my country which I am so proud of. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Brazil doesn’t have many complex issues that we have to face every single day.

Our Pocketcultures contributors helped me think of what it means to be Brazilian and live in such a vast and diverse country with their burning questions about Brazil. We start from the basics, talking about our language, capital and soccer.

REALITY: The capital of Brazil is not Buenos Aires, nor Rio! Rio used to be the capital of Brazil, but, in 1960, Brasilia, the new capital, was inaugurated after a five-year construction period.  Brasilia is known for its urban planning and modern design.  Though I am a proud Brasiliense, born and raised in Brasilia, the city is still mainly populated by migrants who came from other states to build the city. My mother’s family, for example, came from the Northeast of Brazil, and my father is Sicilian. As you can see, my town is made of contrasts and cultural diversity.



As for our language, we speak Portuguese, not Spanish, as many might think. And we tend to say that we speak Brazilian Portuguese to contrast it with the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. Though we can understand and communicate with each other, Brazilians and the Portuguese have linguistic differences in terms of  accent and vocabulary. However, the Portuguese language ties our common cultural and historical backgrounds together, reminding us of our past heritage.

Humm…Tough question, girls! The MYTH part: that Brazilians are not interested in learning Spanish. I guess that if this was totally true, we wouldn’t have  Spanish Language Schools around. However, REALITY is that we tend to take decisions based on priorities and immediate needs. So, for many Brazilians, English would be the first language they’d choose to learn as a second language. Not that Spanish is not a high priority, it should be due to our proximity and commercial relations.

But, you are right, Nuria, that we rely on the fact that we can understand Spanish, so, even if it is speaking a terrible Portuñol (Portuguese with Spanish-like accent and some Spanish words), we can communicate.

In the South of Brazil, though, due to proximity with other Spanish-speaking countries, I think Brazilians feel the need to speak Spanish properly. And, in many cases, some of the Portuguese words are similar to Spanish because in the South there was more Spanish influence than in other parts of Brazil. Even in cultural terms, the South has much in common with parts of Argentina with the gauchos tradition in both countries.

Lucy, English is certainly one of the languages that many Brazilians try to learn. In Brasilia, there is this very peculiar tradition of most kids going to language schools to learn English. At the Binational Center I work for, there are many thousands of students who study English. I wouldn’t say that this is a general REALITY, for most of our low-income population doesn’t have the money to pay for language instruction.

Though English is a mandatory subject in public and private schools, it is generally not taught the proper way and, in this case, most students don’t go beyond the basics and can’t use English in a contextualized, communicative way. Spanish would be second in the list of interest, I’d say. However, there has been an increased interest for French and Mandarin, among other foreign languages.

REALITY for sure! Soccer is considered to be a “National Passion”. We are now preparing ourselves for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Everybody has an opinion about it, be it to criticize our National Team and coach or to digress about the stadiums constructions and transportation infrastructure issues.

When the Brazilian team is playing in the World Cup, the country literally stops. There is no school, no work, nobody on the streets. We prepare our houses to receive friends and family for the games and there’s  a spirit of joy that is spread out everywhere. We cheer in anticipation and fear of not getting to the next stage,  and it would be inconceivable for us if we didn’t get far with the results.

When we win, celebration goes on for hours in a row, everybody goes to the streets, all Brazilian fans wearing yellow and green, two of the colors of our flag. Oh, even school calendar is adjusted to the games. We need to take into account that if there is a game in which Brazil is playing, classes just before the game and after simply don’t happen, for there won’t be any students around.

Now, you might ask me, “but aren’t there Brazilians who don’t like soccer?”. Oh, sure! There are many, but they wouldn’t dare say it, at least, during the World Cup! If they confess their sin, they are seen as the unpleasant guy. It is not just about soccer. It is about being together, celebrating and crying together.

And within the four-year gap? Well, soccer is still a big deal. I have a friend who says that he is not such a huge fan of soccer. However, he fakes it a bit, reads about it, and sometimes even watch the games only to have something to talk about the following day at work. When it is season time (almost all year-round with the national and state championships), there are games on Wednesdays and Sundays, plus some others during the other days of the week.

On Wednesdays, even the soap opera and TV News are shorter because of the games. Sunday afternoon you can’t count on many men around the country….there’s always a game to watch! In my house, for example, with a husband and two boys, I could disappear on Sundays and nobody would notice it! Can you imagine who runs the remote control then?! Certainly, not me!

Well, these are just some of the burning questions our Pocketcultures international team had for me. More to come soon about Brazilian beauty and Economics. Stay tuned!


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Skateboarders in Brasilia

Brazilian paradise

How to dress for trendy Rio


June 8, 2012 5 comments

Familiarizing the World with Assam.

Ruchi Kaur, a design professional in New Delhi, has one major goal: to introduce the globe to the culture of Assam. Feeling the media constantly portrayed her homeland in a negative light, Ruchi, along with a photographer and IT specialist, set out to change Assam’s reputation. Her new blog, Sinaki: The Familiarity Project, includes stories of heroes, celebrations, and beautiful orchids.

I recommend the Sights & Sounds page for some stunning photography. Sinaki, while written in English, does include Assamese within some of the art and Assamese phrases written with English characters to help us all read and pronounce the language.

1. Where do you live, and where are you from?

I currently reside in New Delhi, India. I was born and brought up in Dibrugarh District of Assam, North-East India.

2. Can you tell us why you began this blog?

Writing has always come across to me as a natural phenomenon. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s one of the best tools to express my views.

The idea behind the concept ‘SINAKI’ started a year ago.

Assam and, in general, the North-East of India has always been highlighted by the media in a very negative spirit. Militant urgencies in Assam make cover page stories and headlines while the most amazing of things never get a forefront. I personally have come across people from the rest of India who do not even know about the culture that exists. It’s because they never cared to go and see what lies in that land. Promotions for the state have not been successful enough to bring about the positivity. Its a small place with a big heart. All that is needed is acceptance. This is only possible if the differences are abolished. This is my reason of familiarising Assam. So that not just India but the world gets to see unexplored beauty.

Plus, I believe that one should repay to that land that gave a person life and living. SINAKI is a way of paying tribute to the land.

3. What is one thing you would like everyone to learn about Assam?

‘Joi Aai Axom’ (pronounced as joey-aaii-okhom) means ‘ long live Assam’.
Come visit Assam once, you will learn everything about it. It’s the second ‘God’s own land’

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India, a world of cultures, languages and traditions

Picture Postcards: Indian flower seller

The great big Coorgi wedding

May 8, 2012 3 comments

Laguiole, a prestigious folding Knife

The Laguiole knife, an object-tool whose reputation is second to none

Laguiole is the capital of cutlery in Aubrac, a region of central France. Most people think that knife manufacturing in Laguiole is an ancient tradition that has adapted and been mastered over the centuries! Surprisingly, it is not!

The Bee, one of the distinctive signs of a true Laguiole Knife


March 7, 2012 4 comments