March 4, 2024

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UK traditions such as panto and carols could join Unesco cultural heritage list | Heritage

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Traditions including pantomime, carol singing and steel pan drumming could be recognised in a register of cultural heritage in the UK.

Under the proposals, festivals and celebrations including Hogmanay, Burns Night, Shrove Tuesday and the Welsh tradition of holding eisteddfodau, where all cultural activities including singing and spoken word are conducted in the Welsh language, could be understood as cultural heritage.

The culture minister, Stephen Parkinson, said the government hoped to “celebrate treasured traditions from every corner of the UK”. The government said it intended to ratify the 2003 Unesco convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.

Artisanal crafts such as thatching, tartan, tweed and basket-weaving, as well as the people who practise these traditions, will also be considered.

The register could also include traditions brought to the UK by immigrant communities, such as the Notting Hill carnival and steel pan drumming.

These practices are often also referred to as “intangible cultural heritage” or “living heritage”, inherited from ancestors and passed down through generations.

The 2003 Unesco convention seeks to protect such heritage, which is recognised as being a big part of national life. A public consultation on implementing the convention across the UK launched on Friday.

Lord Parkinson said: “The UK is rich in traditions which are passed down from generation to generation. These crafts, customs and celebrations have helped to shape our communities and bring people together, who continue to shape them in turn.

“By ratifying this convention, we will be able to celebrate treasured traditions from every corner of the UK, support the people who practise them, and ensure they are passed down for future generations to enjoy.”

The Welsh secretary, David TC Davies, the Scotland Office minister, John Lamont, and the minister for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker, welcomed the move to ratify the convention, which they said would help preserve the UK’s cultural heritage.

Davies said: “We have a huge number of wonderful traditions and customs in Wales that help make our nation unique and distinct, and it’s great that many of these will now be formally recorded and recognised.

“It’s important to preserve and protect living heritage, as well as physical landmarks and heritage sites, to pass on to future generations and maintain our special Welsh culture.”

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