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Universal Day of Culture – April 15, 2023

The world celebrates Universal Day of Culture every year on April 15. As an international observance day first organized through the announcement of an international pact, Universal Day of Culture aims to preserve the cultures of all countries and communities. Several nations recognize this significant day by organizing initiatives and events. Also referred to as the World Day of Culture, this is one of many holidays that commemorate an international cause, bringing people together under one goal. This very spirit of unity is what initiated Universal Day of Culture and still shapes much of its efforts.

History of Universal Day of Culture

Universal Day of Culture is the product of an international pact to ratify a legal recognition of the conservation of cultural objects and works of art. Known as the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments, or the Roerich Pact, it legally grants precedence to preserving artworks over military necessity in case of armed conflict. The document was drafted by the eponymous Nicholas Roerich, a Russian painter and author, in an effort to protect cultural and scientific works against destruction in armed conflict.

The Roerich Pact was first proposed in 1931, explaining the significance of the Universal Day of Culture. On April 15, 1935, it was first ratified by the United States in Washington, marking April 15 as the official day for the international observance. Throughout the 20th century, several efforts were made to enable the aim of this holiday, making it one of the most significant international celebrations. The Banner of Peace, which still accompanies every observance of this special day across the world, is recognized as the symbol of the pact.

An international movement supports the affirmation of this universal day and all participating countries organize and coordinate international programs to enable intercultural dialogue, one of the goals of the day. Charity organizations in Cuba, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, and Spain came together to form The International Movement for the affirmation of April 15 as Universal Day of Culture (I.M.A.U.D.C.) in December 2008. Forty organizations from 14 countries, and 25,000 individuals, currently participate in the Movement.

Universal Day of Culture timeline

1931
The Writing of the Roerich Pact

Nicholas Roerich writes the Roerich Pact and establishes a union in Bruges, Belgium.

1935
The U.S. Ratifies the Roerich Pact

The Roerich Pact is signed by the U.S., making it an effective legal document, and marking the first celebration of Universal Day of Culture.

1949
The UNESCO Law for Artwork Protection

The general conference starts working on an international regulation to protect cultural objects during wartime.

2008
The International Movement is Established

The International Movement for the affirmation of April 15 as Universal Day of Culture is established in several countries, making the celebration international.

Universal Day of Culture FAQs

How many cultures are there?

There are various ways to quantify currently existing and practiced cultures. According to many statistics and studies, the number varies between 3,500 and 3,800. This includes cultures restricted to a location, as regions may host multiple cultures.

Which country is the most culturally influential?

Although the answer here depends on many variables, Italy is considered by many to be the most influential, at least in the Western world. From the Roman heritage to the influence of the country’s Renaissance Era, and its world-famous cuisine and literature, Italy is indeed home to one of the richest cultures in the world.

What is the world’s oldest culture?

Several cultures could have existed in this approximate period, but recent studies indicate Australian aboriginals as showing the earliest forms of a culture 75,000 years ago.

How to Observe Universal Day of Culture

  1. Join the efforts

    Every year, several countries organize official events and celebrations to commemorate this day, many of which will be open to the public. Attend and participate in these events. There will be initiatives and communal efforts to raise awareness of the issue.

  2. Read about art and culture

    Extinction is still a threat to many cultures, especially does which remain undocumented. One of the main goals of Universal Day of Culture is to celebrate diversity and help save them from extinction. Recognizing this issue and educating yourself about it are some ways to support cultural documentation efforts.

  3. Document your culture

    Look around your community, city, country, or even within your family. There are bound to be cultural practices, forms, or traditions particular to certain groups. These are often hidden gems that go unrecorded. Do what you can to document them.

5 Interesting Facts About Culture

  1. There are many types of cultures

    There are traditional cultures and organizational cultures among others, all of which share some key characteristics.

  2. Cultures vary within societies

    Most societies are composed of several ethnicities and groups, each carrying its own unique cultural traditions.

  3. The world has many languages

    According to researchers and linguists, there are over 6000 spoken languages in the world today.

  4. Older human societies still exist

    Although most of the world is now organized in urban societies, a few ancient forms like hunter-gatherer and agrarian societies still exist.

  5. Cultural dialogue is natural

    Humans have always been organized into communities and discovering other cultures facilitated early trade.

Why Universal Day of Culture is Important

  1. Cultures create the world

    Without culture, all we have is the physical realm we dwell in. Culture makes the difference and distinguishes people and groups from one another.

  2. Cultural dialogue built the economy

    The earliest forms of trade consisted of cultural exchanges. Culture is an expansive term that may refer to food, clothing, fabricated items, specialized goods, and many more.

  3. Many cultures are going extinct

    This is one of the main motivations of the Roerich Pact and the Universal Day of Culture. Even though we are more connected than ever, many cultures are becoming extinct. Cultural conservation and documentation are some of the most important initiatives related to this special observance day.

Universal Day of Culture dates

YearDateDay
2023April 15Saturday
2024April 15Monday
2025April 15Tuesday
2026April 15Wednesday
2027April 15Thursday

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