Heritage Month: How countries around the world celebrate their heritage
As South Africans around the country get ready to celebrate Heritage Day (September 24), we take a look at how other countries celebrate their heritage:
Spain celebrates its heritage on Fiesta Nacional de España (National Holiday of Spain) on October 12 each year. The main event takes place in its capital Madrid, with a military parade attended by the King, Queen, Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
Highlights include the aerial performance by the Spanish Air Force and spotting the Spanish Legion's (a division of the Spanish Army) mascot. The Legion's official mascot is a goat who dresses up in uniform to join the parade.
Portugal is rich in heritage and packed with hidden gems to be uncovered.
Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa, said one of the best ways of experiencing the country's culture is by sampling its food and drink.
"Portugal’s diverse culinary heritage differs from region to region, and as you move from the Mediterranean coastline inland.
"To feast on Lisbon's most famous export, pop into Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, a bakery famous for their pasteis de Nata," said Richardson. Travellers should also visit Vinho do Porto in Porto, the port wine capital of the world. It's located in the beautiful UNESCO listed Douro River Valley.
Czech Republic is known for its beer and centre many of its traditions and events around the national drink.
Taste the local beer along Prague's Vltava River or at the Letná Beer Garden in Letná Park, a hilltop beer garden boasting fabulous views over the Old Town.
During Christmas, Prague's Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are lit up for the famous Christmas markets, an essential part of the country's heritage. PS: It should be on everyone's bucket list.
Enjoy the atmosphere of twinkling lights, wooden stalls heaped with handmade gifts and Svařák (a local mulled wine) and roasting chestnuts. The country's unique and quirky festive traditions include eating fried carp on Christmas Day. No Father Christmas or Santa Claus figures make an appearance. Locals open their gifts on the 24th.
Ireland dedicates an entire week to celebrate their heritage, with National Heritage Week taking place in August every year.
The country hosts over 2000 events.
Storytelling (with wonderful Irish craic) took centre stage this year while 2019's events included ceramic workshops, fireside ceilis, tours of grand castles and country homes and even an afternoon of full-contact medieval fighting at Ormond Castle.
One of the most famous Irish festivals, however, is St Patrick's Day. Celebrated on March 17, St Patrick’s Day sees revellers of all nationalities across the world don their St Paddy’s Day green and enjoy a tall glass of Guinness.
Hungarians love a folk festival. These festivals, often adapted around age-old superstitions and incorporating the region's multicultural past, have been celebrated for centuries. Curious visitors can learn about them at any one of the many events, celebrations and carnivals. Expect arts, crafts, music and food – and locals decked out in their most elegant traditional outfits.
The festival of Busójárás in February sees the men of the village don scary-looking carved masks and parade through the streets. On Easter Monday, the tradition of Locsolkodás sees men throw buckets of water over women in return for shots of pálinka (a traditional fruit brandy).
In June and July, they host the lavender festival and the Badacsony wine and folk art festival. In August, the Budapest Festival of Folk Art at the grounds of Buda Castle fascinates locals and travellers.
One of the most famous dates on the US calendar is Independence Day, celebrated annually on July 4.
Parades with floats, cheerleaders and marching bands, awash in red, blue and white, line the streets of most cities and towns. Americans love to braai with family and friends – or barbeque as they prefer to call it. Hot dogs take centre stage at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York City. This quirky event is almost 100 years old, and the championship was won this year, for the tenth time, by Joey Chestnut, who consumed 72 hot dogs in just 10 minutes.
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Japan's heritage and age-old traditions are still intricately woven into the everyday lives of Japanese today. One tradition, loved by locals and visitors alike, is visiting the onsen.
Often attached to a ryokan (a traditional inn), the onsen is communal hot springs fed by the many volcanic springs dotted throughout the island. Locals regularly visit onsen to relax, soak in the healing volcanic waters and meditate in the peaceful surroundings.
"I had one of the most unforgettable travel experiences in Japan was staying at a traditional ryokan," said Richardson, who visited one in the mountain hot springs village of Kotohira on a Trafalgar guided holiday.