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Unique Things You Probably Didn't Expect in UNESCO World Heritage List

July 16th 2011

The United Nation’s World Heritage List includes cultural heritage events that need to be protected and preserved for posterity by making sure they are transmitted from generation to generation, giving people a sense of identity. They are on an “intangible heritage” list as they are not solid buildings, monuments or natural scenic wonders, but cultural acts that only exist while being performed, and therefore “intangible heritage.”

5. Echternach Hopping Procession in Echternach, Luxembourg. Every year a procession of over 10,000 hop through the streets of the town of Echternach, in Eastern Luxembourg, dressed in white shirts or blouses and black trousers or skirts while waving handkerchiefs, in honour of a local saint, Saint Willibrord. Saint Willibrord died in Echternach in the year 739.

This festival is in fact so popular that there are up to three times more people hopping in the procession than the total population of Echternach. Echternach is the oldest town in Luxembourg and this ritual goes back many centuries.

4. Peruvian Scissor-Dancing or Danza de las Tijeras in Spanish. Scissor-dancing in the south part of the Peruvian Andes originated in the 16th century, as a part of the Indian resistance to Spanish conquest. The dancers dance in turns, doing explicit ritualistic and challenging moves wielding oversized foot long scissors in each hand.

Peru’s National Cultural Institute wrote in its UNESCO submission document, “This dance expresses the continuity of an ancestral vision of the world that is transmitted and redefined by the Chanka population.” The Chanka people are an ethnic group in Peru.

3. Croatian Ginger Bread BakingThe craft of ginger bread baking and sculpturing in Northern Croatia dates back to the 1600s. This area is famous for is known for its sophisticated ginger bread artistry, made by traditional bakers. Bakers sculpture ginger bread in different shapes, including clocks, horses, shoes, and stars, and decorate them with elaborate designs.

Croatia’s UNESCO submission stated it thus, “Gingerbreads have become one of the recognisable symbols of Croatian identity, which is reflected in their use as gifts for many different occasions and for various events.”

2. The Majorcan Chant of the Sybil. This is a special unique chant performed in Majorcan churches on Christmas Eve. The Chant of the Sybil dates in medieval Europe and has been a Majorcan tradition since some time after 1230 when the island had become Christian once again.

The Chant of the Sybil refers to the Day of Judgment and the Antichrist revealed, when “fish will scream loudly, losing their natural charms.” The chant was originally set to Gregorian music and sung in Italian.

1. Ojkanje Folk Singing. A tradition from Zagora, the southern inland region of Croatia, marked by a distinctive polyphonic (two independent melodic voices) voice-shaking technique produced by warbling in the throat. Unique and distinctive for UNESCO's World Heritage List.

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