Explore the World In Your Backyard!

Sunday, October 19, 2014, From Noon to 5PM.

The World of Montgomery Festival at Westfield Wheaton on Sunday October 19th will celebrate the diverse cultural heritages which play an active role in the lives of Montgomery County residents and communities. The festival showcases this rich diversity through food, music, dance, traditional arts and hands-on projects for children and families.

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Sponsored by Fund for Montgomery and organized by KID Museum, the festival includes an international village, a global kitchen with chef demonstrations of traditional ethnic food, a craft market, a Parade of Cultures, two performance stages of traditional dance and music, traditional arts and fun activities for the whole family.

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The festival also will include immersive exhibits focusing on four countries with some of the largest immigrant populations in Montgomery County: China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and India.  Each country will be showcased in a large tent with artifacts, photographs and demonstrations of traditional arts.  The day will also feature a wide range of music, dance and cultural performances on two stages, and numerous hands-on activities for children and families and an international craft market.

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For more information, the latest updates, and more in-depth posts regarding World Of Montgomery performances, exhibits and activities, visit our KID Museum blog.

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And while you’re at it, why not register to win a prize at World of Montgomery?  Must be present at the festival to win. Click here to register:

Eventbrite - Raffle Drawing at World of Montgomery - Must be Present to Win

henna ceremonyHenna Art to be Featured at the World of Montgomery Festival

The opportunity to see and experience traditional arts of different countries makes the World of Montgomery an event you won’t want to miss. This year, four countries will be highlighted: India, China, El Salvador, and Ethiopia. Each of these countries has unique traditional arts, some of which will be demonstrated right in your own backyard!

The term “traditional arts” can be used interchangeably with “folk art.” It is art that is part of the culture of a group of people. Skills and knowledge are passed down from generation to generation through family members or from masters to apprentices.

Visitors to the India tent at the Festival will get to experience on of the most beautiful traditional arts – henna art. The art of painting henna designs on the body, also called mehndi in Hindi, has been practiced for more than 5,000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East.  At World of Montgomery – you can get the henna painted on you.

Henna paste, made from grinding leaves of the henna tree, was initially used to cool the body. When it was discovered that the paste left a stain on the skin, henna art was born! Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, was known to use henna to decorate her body. While often referred to as henna “tattoos,”—henna art designs are not permanent like traditional tattoos and will wash away gradually after a week or two. Traditional henna art is never black—colors range from orange to dark maroon and is safe for anyone to try.

Henna art is used not only to decorate the body, but is also used for auspicious or celebratory events to bring good fortune. Historically, henna art is associated with romantic love and the ritual of marriage. The intricate floral and paisley designs often seen on the hands and feet of an Indian bride are a sign of good luck for the newlyweds. Henna art is usually practiced by women who teach others the art form—passing down recipes and designs from one generation to the next.

Like many traditions, there is folklore associated with henna art: in India, it is thought that if the bride gets a good dark henna stain, the mother-in-law will love her, thus making for a happier marriage!

girl in china tent with dragon [permission from parent] photo by Ken Stanek

Chinese Lanterns

At the World of Montgomery festival, the China area is decorated with beautiful lanterns hung from all sides of the tents.  Chinese paper lanterns are easy to make!  You only need a few supplies including construction paper, sciccors, a pencil, a ruler, and tape

  • Cut a strip off of the short end of the paper to form a handle and set aside.
  • Fold your paper in half lengthwise and draw a one inch line down the long side. This line is your mark to stop cutting.
  • Use your pencil and ruler to draw lines one inch apart from the fold to the “stop” line.
  • Cut on the pencil lines up to the “stop cutting” line.
  • Unfold the paper.
  • Decorate one side of the paper with designs or Chinese characters.
  • Match the long edges together on the lantern and use tape to hold it in place.
  • Tape or staple the handle in place.

If you would like to write hello in Chinese, the greeting is Nǐ hǎo and the characters are below.

你好

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Cascarones at World of Montgomery

In the El Salvador tent, visitors at World of Montgomery will have the opportunity to see traditional Cascarones (Kas-Ka-ro-nez).  These are beautifully colored eggs filled with confetti and small toys traditionally made to celebrate Easter. Easter confetti eggs are often broken over someone’s head as a symbol of good luck. The Cascarone or confetti egg tradition is said to have begun in Italy using hollowed eggshells filled with perfumed powder.  The El Salvadoran tradition became popular in Mexico and spread to other countries in Latin America.

Throughout the year, hollowed out eggs are collected, rinsed out, and saved.  The eggs are decorated using food dye and dried.  Small pieces of paper are cut into confetti to fill the eggs and colored tissue paper is glued in place to cover the holes.  Try making the traditional Cascarones at home with your own family!

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony photo by Ken Stanek

Coffee as an Art Form

If you are invited to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, this is an honor signifying friendship and respect.  At the World of Montgomery festival, the Ethiopia tent offers demonstrations of this traditional art form.

“Traditional art,” also called folk art—is art that is part of the culture of a group of people. Skills and knowledge of an art form are passed down through generations through family members or from masters to apprentices. Traditional art can an object, performance, or it can be a ritual or ceremony. In Ethiopia, the traditional coffee ceremony is an integral part of the everyday culture. Visitors to an Ethiopian home are almost always welcomed with a coffee ceremony at any time of the day.

To many of us, coffee is what gets many of us moving in the morning. Making coffee is often a daily ritual we perform: measure water and grinds, turn on the coffeemaker. Or it’s arriving at our favorite coffee house and asking for the usual. There is something about the fragrant, steaming, dark elixir that lends itself to ritual. To Ethiopians, the ritual of making and drinking coffee is quite special.

The Ethiopian ceremony demonstrates the full life cycle of coffee preparation and is usually performed by a young woman who wears a long white dress with colorful embroidered borders on its sleeves. The young woman has been taught how to conduct the ceremony through watching and learning from other women.

Prior to the ceremony, incense is burned to clear the air; the smell of incense will mix with the coffee smells to make for an aromatic experience. The young woman starts the ceremony by washing raw coffee beans. Then the beans are roasted in a special flat long handled roasting pan over a small charcoal stove or fire.  The woman moves the pan back and forth so as to not burn the beans—which also releases the fragrant aroma of the coffee beans. Once the beans are roasted, they are ground, traditionally by hand with a mortar and pestle. The ground coffee is then placed in a jebena, a handcrafted clay pitcher with a round bottom, long neck and straw lid. The jebena is filled with water and placed on the fire. Once boiled the coffee is strained and served in small cups. The process can take from thirty minutes to a few hours and provides a chance for sharing and conversation. Through the woman’s carefully planned and practiced movements, the relatively simple act of washing, roasting, grinding, brewing, pouring and serving coffee is elevated to an art form.  It is a feast for the senses of smell, sight and taste. It’s an art form to be witnessed and who knows, you may look at your own coffee making ritual a bit differently or at least your regular Starbucks barista.