Traditions in Latin America

lady-fruit-vendors-of-colombia-in-traditional-costumes-image-by-luz-adriana-villa-aThe cultural heritage protected by UNESCO goes beyond tangible assets. There are also assets that are intangible and they also deserve to be preserved, such as the traditions or culture of our ancestors from decades and even centuries ago. It is said that this is also an important part of the collective memory of humanity. Do not think of it as a memory that one should get stuck on, but memory as a practice, as an active exercise that helps us not make the same mistakes twice. Oral literature, dance forms, knowledge, etc. are all assets that can and should be preserved.

Intangible assets can also incorporate contemporary cultural expressions without being a part of a legacy of the previous generations, since they may be part of the culture of a particular social group. Sometimes, the members of a small community petition before their government to request their tradition or culture to be incorporated in UNESCO’s cultural heritage list.

It may be worth mentioning that the case of a Venezuelan small community, which had their ancient indigenous traditions inducted as a part of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In this case, it was a type of ritualistic celebration, named the “Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi”. The main objective of this tradition or ritualistic dance and celebration is to worship the Catholic Blessed Sacrament during the Easter holiday.

Another great example of intangible cultural heritage listed by UNESCO in South America is “La Danza de las Tijeras” in Peru (the scissor´s dance). It is represented by the Quechua communities in the Peruvian Andes, but in the recent years, it has also expanded to other cities in Peru. They dance during the months of drought in relation to celebrations about sowing and harvesting. In this particular dance, each dancer holds two pieces of metal in their hands that resemble scissors, hence the name.