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Cultural Diversity Day is a United Nations Holiday on May 21


The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a holiday declared by the UN on 21 May to help spread intercultural awareness & love.

Back in November of 2001, soon after the World Trade Center attacks and the Taliban destroying the ancient and irreplaceable Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan just months prior, the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly voted on something to help heal an increasingly suspicious and fractured world.

That something is World Cultural Diversity Day.

cultural diversity is beautiful
Taken by O. Lopez via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

What is Cultural Diversity Day?

World Cultural Diversity Day, or World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, is a holiday proclaimed by UNESCO to coincide with their Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. As with that declaration, Cultural Diversity Day is meant to celebrate the wealth and variety of human cultures, interreligious dialogue, culture and development, and to reaffirm the “conviction that intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of peace and to reject outright the theory of the inevitable clash of cultures and civilizations.”

Here’s the relevant portion of the resolution implementing Cultural Diversity Day as a world heritage holiday:

Encouraged by the Plan … which urges the promotion of dialogue and cooperation among the world’s civilizations and peoples, irrespective of race, disabilities, religion, language, culture or tradition,

Underlining the fact that tolerance and respect for cultural diversity and universal promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to development, are mutually supportive, and recognizing that tolerance and respect for diversity effectively promote and are supported by, inter alia, the empowerment of women,

Emphasizing the need to enhance the potential of culture as a means of achieving prosperity, sustainable development and global peaceful coexistence,

Proclaims 21 May the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, echoing the World Day for Cultural Development commemorated during the World Decade for Cultural Development.

UN General Assembly, 57th Session, Resolution 249

How to Celebrate World Culture Diversity Day?

As the main goal of Cultural Diversity Day is to celebrate cultural pluralism and our many differences, there are many ways to respect other cultures on this day (and all days).

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) partnered with UNESCO to come up with some ideas for celebrating this world holiday (adapted from UNAOC‘s list).

How to Celebrate Cultural Diversity Day:

  1. Visit a museum or exhibit dedicated to another culture.

    Art is always a good start, but a cultural museum would be perfect.

  2. Learn about another religion.

    Interreligious dialogue is one of the most important supporting principles.

  3. Watch a foreign-language film.

    Netflix has a wealth of international films if you just dig a bit deeper.

  4. Listen to foreign-language music.

    But not just their top hits. Try to listen to songs important to their cultural heritage.

  5. Play a sport uncommon in your country.

    Or perhaps teach someone a sport you know.

  6. Cook authentic food.

    Go online (perhaps our sister site, Everywhere Fare 🙂 ) to find traditional recipes to replicate.

  7. Learn about foreign cultural traditions.

    And important holidays!

  8. Volunteer.

    Find cultural organizations in your city and help them out.

  9. Learn another language.

    Need inspiration? We’ve got dozens of language learning quotes.

  10. Spread the word!

    Tell your friends and family about this holiday.

To be a more culturally aware individual, check out these articles:

We Are All Ambassadors As We Travel

Ethnicity, Nationality, Race, Identity, Culture & Heritage Differences

Arab vs Persian vs Middle Eastern

Hispanic vs Latino vs Spanish vs Latin American

Myanmar or Burma: Which Country Name is Best?

Oriental vs Asian vs Eastern: What’s the Difference?

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: In Europe or Asia?

Saint Martin vs. Sint Maarten: What’s the Difference?

Have anything to add on Cultural Diversity Day? Let’s chat below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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