"Attendance at an ethnic event while traveling is a great way to experience the heritage of the area being visited. It can also be a way to introduce the traditions of a travel destination that will be featured on an upcoming international itinerary."
For over six centuries people have been arriving on these shores to find a new home. Most have sought to blend with the multi-cultural way of life that is now the norm in almost all communities and regions throughout the continent. However, carrying on heritage traditions has also been an important part of establishing a new life in the Americas for most immigrants.
Celebrations of these traditions come in many forms such as a family gathering for ethnic meals, cultural clubs where groups participate in dances and ceremonies, religious celebrations that honor certain ethnic rituals, community heritage festivals and ethnic events. An important purpose of all these gatherings is to hand down heritage values and activities from one generation to the next and to remind all who participate of the contribution the ethnic influence has had in formulating the diverse North American society.
Here are some ethnic and heritage events to consider including in your travel plans.
The celebrations for those with Latin roots and particularly with Mexican heritage are found in communities located throughout the Western states. The most widely celebrated Mexican events that offer cultural experiences for visitors include fiestas, Cinco de Mayo (victory over France), Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Dia de la Independencia (Independence Day) and Posadas (parades commemorating Mary and Joseph journey into Bethlehem). Some communities also celebrate Dia de la Candelaria, a religious celebration that features candlelight processions through the streets of the town and dancing. Music is always present at Mexican events, and you will find that the religious occasions are filled with drama, pageantry and ceremony while other events are festive and will have fairs, parades, competitions, food, dance and colorful costuming and decorations. Mexican heritage events are listed on most community event calendars. Two resources useful for learning more about Mexican holidays
The passage of heritage rites and traditions is important to all Native American and First Nation peoples. The focal point of many powwows and native fairs is the telling of stories about tribal ancestors and beliefs that are handed down from the elders to the younger generations. Highlighted by the use of colorful costumes, dances and ceremonies, these gatherings are considered sacred rituals, but visitors are often welcome to observe. Tribal cultural centers and guides provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history and beliefs of a tribe as well as the significance of the performances and ceremonies being presented. Most events have food booths and display crafts of the tribe. The Red Earth Festival, in Oklahoma City, OK is the largest Native American cultural and arts exposition in the world. More than 2000 artists, dancers and singers from more than 100 tribes across North American convene each June at the downtown Cox Business Services Convention Center. Contact 405-427-5228
The Latin influence and experience are much farther reaching than Mexico. Other Latin nations and cultures are represented in the West with many celebrating Carnival, including San Francisco which is host to the largest celebration of its kind in California.
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