We talk a lot about endangered species and disappearing environments but parts of life that are more difficult to categorize can be threatened with extinction as well. Language, customs, and traditional practices are often passed down from generation to generation but some fall by the wayside. Just because a cultural tradition is going away doesn't mean it's valueless. This is part of the sentiment of UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
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The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding holds 314 elements from countries all around the world. You may have heard of some of the list items -such as Chinese shadow puppetry, French horseback riding, and Colombian Marimba music - but you are unlikely to be familiar with everything on this list. For example, Jultagi (Korean tightrope walking), the Ifa divination system from Nigeria, and the silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland of Croatia are just a few "intangibles" that may hold some mystery for the majority of us.
With all the impact humans have on the natural world, it may feel misguided to focus on preserving pieces of human culture. Particularly considering these are often simply the victims of progress and modernization. But, as we all know and have each probably said ourselves, it's vital that we learn from our history, so that we can attempt to avoid past mistakes. Attempts to preserve culture can help us in this, through the maintenance and study of oral history, unique craftsmanship, and traditional wisdoms. Studying cultural heritage can also provide us with colorful, diverse, rich experiences that can be difficult to find in the modern era.
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Read more about preserving cultural traditions:
The Guardian: Unesco identifies endangered cultural traditions
Smithsonian Institution: Smithsonian Folklife Festival