Countries and Cultures
African Americans are at the heart of the greatest achievements of our history, from music to law, from politics to sports, from literature to religion.
The year 2012 is The Year of the Dragon in China and the Chinese New Year begins on January 23rd. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules, and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. So, if you were born in any years designated as "Year of the Dragon," you may exhibit these characteristics. To check and see which sign dominates the year you were born, see the China Today website. For more on Chinese horoscopes that you can check out in our library, see:
The handbook of Chinese horoscopes by Theodora Lau
Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, April 2, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books. This years theme, The Book Remembers, comes from Estonia. ICBD promotes the idea that children's books can help children learn about people from other countries, learn to appreciate and respect other cultures, and learn to get along with others. Here are some of the great books available to help you celebrate the day:
Ten little fingers and ten little toes by Mem Fox; illustrations by Helen Oxenbury
Egg Painting and Decorating: 305 Fantastic and Fun Patterns for the Whole Family. For something really fancy, try Making Faberge Style Eggs.
For a VHS video biography on the creator of Faberge Eggs, try
The range of genres includes country, folk, bluegrass, Western, old time, American Indian, blues, gospel, shape note singing, doo-wop, Motown, R&B, soul, funk, and others. Content from African American Music is now a part of American Song, including 17,000 tracks from the original interface, plus 18,000 newly released tracks. Try this today and listen to some really interesting music!
Language blogs can help you learn about another culture as well as words and meanings that have altered, adapted or changed from one country to another.
Groundhog Day was first celebrated in the U.S. as a Pennsylvania German (so called Pennsylvania Dutch) custom around the 17th and 18th century. This tradition goes back even further in time when the ancient Romans conquered the Teutons or Germanic peoples in the north and brought this custom with them. If the groundhog came out of its den and cast a shadow, 6 more weeks of winter were imminent.
The ancient Celtic pagan festival of Imbolc, celebrated this same day, is traditionally a time of weather prediction, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to Groundhog Day. Fire and purification are important aspects of this festival. The lighting of candles and burning of bonfires in the snow represented the return of warmth and increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.
For more information on this holiday, see the book Groundhog Day in our collection. For more on Candlemas, see Celebrations of Light, also in our library collection.