Other Cultures

Our meeting in January took us on a wonderful international journey. Each member had visited or lived in a country and brought artefacts and images to give us a brief insight into rituals and festivals from around the world.

We visited Hong Kong for a topical glimpse of Chinese New Year celebrations as we enter the Year of the Rabbit, with a lion dance head, ornamental fire crackers and little red “lai see” packets for gifts of money.

Next we went to New Zealand and were able to see a beautiful Maori Koru made up of a wooden spiral based on a new unfurling fern frond. It is a symbol in Maori art symbolising new life, growth, strength and peace.

We dipped into North America and Canada to learn about totem poles of the Indigenous American people and an beautiful embroidered man’s coat.

A trip to Africa taught us about a small bronze mini torque which was used as currency and collected up on arms like bangles.

We moved on to Papua New Guinea and saw a beautifully carved mask together with an intricately carved wooden crocodile. Masks are believed to be the spirits or ancestral deities providing protection from dangerous invisible forces and marauding evil spirits.

Finally we returned to Europe and Italy for the tradition of nativity scenes. All nativities will have the traditional nativity scene of the birth of Jesus at it’s centre but then more is added to show villages and whole towns populated with many carved figurines and some who watch over the scene to protect it.