The European Heritage Days are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural events shared by the citizens of Europe.
The European Heritage Days have been organized since 1999 as a joint initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe. The aim is to give concrete examples of how local communities can contribute to the European dimension of heritage and celebrate heritage as a shared European value.
From late August to mid-October more than 50,000 national and local events celebrate Europe’s true treasure – its communities and the people behind the places and their role in promoting and sharing common European heritage. Millions of people across Europe will visit thousands of sites for free; most of them only open to the public during European Heritage Days. Museums, galleries, historic archives, libraries and many other places will be brought into the spotlight to encourage active participation in heritage conservation and interpretation.
2018 will see a series of initiatives and events across Europe to enable people to become closer to and more involved with their cultural heritage. Cultural heritage shapes our identities and everyday lives. It surrounds us in Europe’s towns and cities, natural landscapes and archaeological sites. It is not only found in literature, art and objects, but also in the crafts we learn from our ancestors, the stories we tell to our children, the food we enjoy in company and the films we watch and recognise ourselves in.
Why cultural heritage?
Cultural heritage has a universal value for us as individuals, communities and societies. It is important to preserve and pass on to future generations. You may think of heritage as being ‘from the past’ or static, but it actually evolves though our engagement with it. What is more, our heritage has a big role to play in building the future of Europe. That is one reason why we want to reach out to young people in particular during the European Year.
Cultural heritage comes in many shapes and forms.
tangible – for example buildings, monuments, artefacts, clothing, artwork, books, machines, historic towns, archaeological sites.
intangible – practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – and the associated instruments, objects and cultural spaces – that people value. This includes language and oral traditions, performing arts, social practices and traditional craftsmanship.
natural – landscapes, flora and fauna.
digital – resources that were created in digital form (for example digital art or animation) or that have been digitalised as a way to preserve them (including text, images, video, records).
Through cherishing our cultural heritage, we can discover our diversity and start an inter-cultural conversation about what we have in common. So what better way to enrich our lives than by interacting with something so central to who we are?
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