World Heritage Day: History & Celebration Ideas
What exactly is World Heritage Day? The holiday, also known as the International Monuments and Sites Day, was established in 1982 to protect the world’s most important cultural sites and historical monuments for future generations. Celebrated on April 18, World Heritage Day also encourages us to shine a light on the importance of cultural heritage in our lives and to celebrate and preserve all the world’s cultures.
So how can teachers and families celebrate this important day? Read on for ideas on how to spread awareness about our diverse heritages and cultural sites and monuments.
Explore World Heritage Sites
Want to go underground and explore the Republic of Korea’s lava tube systems? Or visit the Great Pyramids of Giza? How about the ancient Maya site of Chichén Itzá? These places are just a few of the 11,000+ World Heritage Sites deemed by an international organization to have special cultural or physical significance. Students and families can visit World Heritage Sites virtually to explore ancient monuments, holy sites, incredible landscapes, and more. These sites represent a wonderful opportunity to teach children about the different cultures and historic sites that exist around the world!
Create a Cultural Heritage Video
Capture and preserve your family’s cultural heritage or teach students about the diverse cultures within their classroom with a group video! Each extended family member or student can record a video clip of themselves talking about different aspects of their cultural heritage, including customs, practices, special objects, important holidays, and more. Participants can wear clothing that is traditional to their culture, display an important family heirloom, demonstrate a religious ritual, or share a special recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Traditional songs or dances are also excellent ways for participants to share their heritage!
For families, the final group video can easily be shared with relatives and serve as a precious keepsake. It can also be used a gift for a child or new family member (adoptee, spouse, etc.) to welcome them and introduce them to their family’s cultural heritage. For teachers, the final group video can be shared on a big screen during class and emailed to parents so they can watch too!
Cultural Cuisine Potluck
One of the most enjoyable ways to explore a culture is through food. Whether it’s a dish made for a specific holiday or an everyday meal common to a culture, families and students can learn a lot about others’ traditions, religions, and identities through food.
Teachers can ask students to bring in a dish from their culture, explain what it is, and share if there’s any special meaning or significance behind it. Then everyone can dig in! Teachers can encourage students to talk about how the dishes are unique and if they notice any similarities between them.
Families can host a potluck too! Invite friends and neighbors to contribute dishes from their own culture for a fun smorgasbord of food. Alternatively, families can make a simple meal at home: pick a culture you’re not familiar with and replicate its traditional dishes or make dishes from your own culture that you haven’t tried before.
Create a Family Tree
Where does your family come from? How far back can you trace your ancestry? Family trees are a fun way to visually understand your heritage and gain a better sense of where you come from. Relatives can work together to create a family tree complete with an individual’s place of birth, birth date, marriage date, spouse, children, and photo if possible. If you’re really invested in the project, explore different genealogy sites to take a deep dive into your family history. The final family tree can be shared with classmates or relatives on World Heritage Day!
Whether you use World Heritage Day as an opportunity to explore others’ cultures or learn more about their own culture, we hope these ideas help you on your journey!