UNESCO’s favorite intangibles

Last week UNESCO released its latest “intangible cultural heritage” list. I hadn’t heard of this specific list—I knew about UNESCO World Heritage sites, but I had never heard of the “intangible” list. Basically it recognizes the treasured traditions, customs, foods, dances, etc., from cultures around the world. All told, 46 items from 11 countries were added to the list.

I like this list. I like it because it includes weird things like oil wrestling in Turkey, scissor-dancing in Peru, and falconry. I also like that it includes extremely general things like French dining and Mediterranean diet.

A couple of Spanish items also caught my eye. One, the Flamenco, pleased me because I like the Flamenco, have seen a Flamenco show in Seville, and have written about Flamenco shows for EF College Break. Another, Catalonian human towers (or castells), is close to my heart because I’ve blogged about them and because I think it's one of the more unique traditions I’ve heard of.

I also like this list because of what it represents in terms of travel. How it’s about more than just seeing sights and landmarks. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing famous monuments as much as the next guy. But my favorite thing about travel is the cultures. It’s the people, the foods, the shows, the art, the festivals. When I go to Spain, for example, I don’t just want to see the palaces and cathedrals. I want to see Flamenco and people building giant towers out of themselves.

It’s nice to see UNESCO giving these things their due. Here's the list.

Photo: calafellvalo via Flickr (CC)

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