In general, a tradition is a belief or behavior that has symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past, and is passed down within a group or society especially by word of mouth or by practice. The word "tradition" itself derives from the Latin tradere literally meaning "to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping." Traditions occur in all realms of life, and can be both practical and sacred.
Not surprisingly, there are many traditions linked to man's relationship with the earth. Whether cutting peat in the Scottish Highlands, tending an Azorean garden that was created almost a quarter of a millennia ago, or practicing the ancient art of beekeeping in the Slovenian hinterlands, terrestrial traditions pay homage to our human connection to the planet. Read on for personal accounts of cultural connections to the land, and the myriad ways in which people relate to their landscape.
Discover the beautiful Thomas Jefferson Garden and Monticello home, where he enjoyed a scenic and peaceful retreat on his estate in Charlottesville, Virginia. The stately plantation features an extensive vegetable garden carved into the hillside extending out from the house. In this article Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello tells us all about the rich history of Jefferson’s garden and her personal connection to botany.
Tofino and Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast offer lessons in the inter-connectivity of life and the hishuk ish ts’ awalk philosophy of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, who have called the area home since Time Immemorial. In this belief, every being is accorded respect for its own unique value and contribution to the greater good. This sacred ideology is rooted in the spectacular cultural landscape and embodied in local enterprises like Tofino Botanical Gardens, the Wickaninnish Inn and Sobo restaurant.
Scotland's Inner Hebrides Isles of Mull & Iona are places of pilgrimage for both history and nature lovers for good reason. Reached by ferry from Oban, these sister islands offer a microcosm of Scotland's story, from Bronze Age cairns to the ruins of ancient Iona Abbey to Duart Castle, fought over by two clans. Mull is now nick-named 'Eagle Island' but only after the regal birds were reintroduced from extinction after persecution; the colorful Puffin, on the other hand, is a much-loved seabird who returns here each summer from the Arctic to breed. As always, let BCD inform and educate you on the cultural highlights of a destination before you travel!
When most Americans when sit down for their traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the fourth Thursday of November, a dish of cranberry sauce is sure to be on the table. I went to experience a cranberry harvest, Massachusetts to learn more about this staple of the Thanksgiving table.
Get a virtual tour of Estonia’s Muhu Island with local Katrin Turr. Take a ferry ride across Suur Strait & be transported to thatched roofs, Neo-Gothic manors & Medieval churches. Experience of the legacy of Russian influence: the motivation of medals, Orthodoxy Christianity, young communist league & missile silos. Koguva’s ethnographic museum highlights daily life in the 19th century: farmhouse, costumes & writer Juhan Smuul.
Vida and Joze Koželj’s 200-year family heritage of beekeeping inspired them to set up a museum in their home town of Smarje Sap displaying a brand folk art unique to Slovenia. The honeybee is revered in Slovenia and since the 18th century, painting the wooden boxes used to house the bees has been a cultural tradition, preserving & sharing local folk tales & spiritual beliefs. Let BCD show you these fabulous pieces of folk art, along with commentary from the Koželjs on the paintings’ history & symbolism.
After three years of lobbying by Slovenia, in 2017 the U.N. declared the 20th of May as World Bee Day. Slovenians founded the science of apiculture and are champions of honeybees and their essential contribution to our ecosystems. Meet Blaz Ambrozic, the Honey King of Selo Village and one of Slovenia’s youngest beekeepers, and let him share with you the cultural and practical significance of these vital pollinators. Let BCD give you the back story and local perspectives on Slovenia’s' cultural heritage before you travel!
Ever wonder how people of various backgrounds from different parts of the world end up in the same place? The remote village of Durness in Scotland’s northwest corner is called home by both local crofters & artists, who all have a potent connection with the area’s spectacular beauty. Learn about Scottish crofting heritage and lifestyle from Martin Mackay. Let Ishbel MacDonald share the inspiration she finds in Durness’ ‘layers of history’. Learn from Ludo Van Muysen about the energy of Durness’ storms and sea. See Durness’ fast-changing light show and green misty valleys through the eyes of Nicola Poole.
Are there certain smells that conjures up “home” for you? Let Donald MacPhee, a crofter on the Isle of Benbecula in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, give you the story behind the beloved scent of a good peat fire. Donald took BCD into the peat bogs to share the history, traditions & techniques of harvesting this age-old eco heating source. Donald’s tutorial gives context and meaning for an iconic tradition--he is the kind of storyteller BCD is passionate about presenting to travelers!
The Yucatan state of Mexico is famous for the waters of its Mayan Riveria and Mayan ruins like Tulum and Chichen Itza but its 3,000 cenotes offer a magical way to cool off and access Mayan mystery. Take the plunge into the turquoise pools like Cenotes Yaax Ek, Zaci and Ik Kil, and immerse yourself in local culture and history!
The Portuguese island of Madeira has been referred to as one giant garden. Its vast biodiversity qualified it as a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. With over 3,000 types of flowering plants and 780 native Madeira plants, it's no wonder the island is know as a 'floating flower pot.' Madeira is also home to traditions of refined embroidery and a wild toboggan run known as the Monte Sleigh Ride. BCD's insightful reporting gives you the lay of the cultural landscape in a way no other site does.
Let BCD guide you on a virtual journey around Ireland’s Inis Mor, one of three Aran Islands known for its strong winds and mysterious limestone landscape. Meet Celtic priest Dara Molloy who offers an illuminating look at Inis Mor’s rich spiritual history & folklore. Converse with locals on Inis Mor about how the landscape has shaped their lives and beliefs.
With this mesmerizing video, visit Pico, part of the Azorean archipelago of ancient volcanic islands located in the Atlantic ocean. On Pico, you feel the rich, fertile, potent power of the black earth. But the awe-inspiring forces that made all that black lava rock are unpredictable, and so on Pico, most people seek a connection with a comforting, protective divinity...and with each other. That connection is evidenced in the Bom Jesus festival, held in the village of Sao Mateaus each August 6, and at the Santo Amaro Craft School. BCD scouts out and brings you the most authentic cultural tourism experiences!
Do you aspire to a career following your bliss? Check out Q&A with Azorean gardener doing just that! Carina Costa is a second-generation steward of Terra Nostra Gardens, a cultural landmark in Furnas village on Sao Miguel Island. Soak up the history of this 200-year old garden set in volcanic crater & amidst therapeutic springs. Enjoy a tutorial on plant cataloguing, camellias & cultivars! Get insight into the design of an English border garden in the Azores! Dig deep into what makes a career rewarding and how Terra Nostra Gardens is unique.
Interested in Irish ancient history? Curious about long-held local customs of Aran Islands? With energetic Maureen Conneely leading the charge, discover the ruins of Dún Chonchúir, a fort built on island of Inis Meáin over 2,000 years ago for the mythical king Aonghus mac Úmhór. Maureen offers insight into daily life on this island and how technology has impacted age-old traditions. Let BCD's access to and relationships with local people inform your travels & ensure authentic encounters!