ABOVE PHOTO: Youth from Watoto of Joy offer Afro-centric stories around holidays at the Penn Museum’s free Celebration around the World Saturday, Dec 3. (Photo: Penn Museum)
Philadelphia is now a World Heritage City, the first in the US, and the Penn Museum offers a free, spirited holiday program with an international focus: “Celebrations around the World” Saturday, December 3, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Guests receive Museum “passports” to “visit” China, Japan, Kenya, Iraq, and the Republic of Georgia and discover a world of holiday traditions at this annual, all-ages afternoon. Traditional Vietnamese songs as well as world music geared to children, Tai chi and Karate demonstrations, African and African-American storytelling, and “Celebrations around the World” family gallery tours are all part of the event, along with balloon art, face painting, holiday craft make-and-takes, and even holiday cupcakes, while they last!
“This joyful and distinctively international celebration is Penn Museum’s holiday ‘gift’ to our community,” said Dr. Julian Siggers, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. “We open our doors in the spirit of cultural understanding and in the hope we all have for a world at peace.”
Exploring New Year’s Eve Around the Globe
The celebration begins with an inspirational talk at 11:30 am, as Thomas Dixon offers a wide-ranging look at “New Year’s Eve Around the World.” A native Pennsylvanian and a Temple University graduate student, his goal, as he explains on The Humanist.com, is to visit a new city every year on New Year’s Eve, opening himself to new cultures, experiences, and people.
An Afternoon’s Passport to the World
Guests receive their “passports” upon entering the Museum, set to “depart” on their world tour throughout the galleries from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Along the way, presenters from University of Pennsylvania cultural student associations and community partners share aspects of their countries’ holiday festivals, history, cuisine, and traditions—and stamp guest passports. Passports stamped with four or more countries earn a small memento. This year, guests can discover the cultural and holiday traditions of multiple countries, including China, Japan, Iraq, Kenya, and the Republic of Georgia.
“Celebrations around the World” family gallery tours depart at 12:00 pm and again at 2:30 pm, venturing through the Native American Voices exhibition, plus the Africa, Mexico and Central America, and Rome Galleries, to explore ceremonial rites of passage, feasts, and music of celebrations past and present.
Music and martial arts from around the world keep the international theme lively. A Tai chi demonstration by Penn graduate student Xirui Sun is at 1:00 pm. Everyone is invited to travel around the world in song, with a children’s world music program by Daria at 2:00 pm, and hear traditional Vietnamese songs performed by Trang Le at 3:00 pm. Members of the Kenkojuku Karate school of South Jersey offer a demonstration at 3:30 pm.
The “Watoto of Joy” youth group, part of Philadelphia’s “Keepers of the Culture” Afro-centric storytelling group, perform stories told during Kwanzaa (African and African-American), Crop Over (Barbados), and Watch Night (African American). The group, ages 9 through 20, just performed at the 34th “In the Tradition” Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference held in Philadelphia in November.
Throughout the event, guests can stop by at a holiday crafts make-and-take station to create unity wreaths and paper stained glass window ornaments. From 1:00 to 4:00 pm, balloon artists and face painters work their special magic for guests. Holiday cupcakes are available for all, courtesy of CxRA (Catering by Restaurant Associates) at the Penn Museum, while supplies last!
11:30 am—Lecture: New Year’s Eve Around the World with Thomas Dixon
12:00 pm—Family Gallery Tour: Celebrations Around the World
12:00 pm—Wototo of Joy storytelling
1:00 pm—Tai chi demonstration by Xirui Sun
2:00 pm—Children’s Music from around the World with Daria
2:30 pm—Family Gallery Tour: Celebrations Around the World
3:00 pm—Traditional Vietnamese songs by Trang Le
3:30 pm—Kenkojuku Karate school demonstration
11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Holiday crafts make-and-take station:
Paper Stained Glass Windows
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Passports around the World: Learn about holidays and traditions
from around the world, and collect passport stamps to win a prize
Holiday cupcakes (while supplies last)