Men in lederhosen slapping themselves on the thighs, knees and soles of their feet - the traditional Bavarian "Schuhplattler" dance could soon be part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Germany has finally adopted UNESCO's 2003 treaty, which aims to protect rare knowledge and traditions around the world.
Exactly which tradition, abilities and forms of expression should be selected to represent Germany's intangible cultural heritage will be carefully examined. Starting on May 3, 2013, proposals for the list can be submitted to UNESCO. Old trades such as organ making are among those which will be considered.
Carnival is one of the most beloved traditions in Germany. It has many faces, ranging from the grim "Fastnacht" in southwestern Germany to the jovial street celebrations in the Rhineland. Oktoberfest in Munich is another candidate for the Intangible Cultural Heritage list, though UNESCO has said it will only approve traditions which don't pursue commercial interests.
Critics of Germany's decision to adopt the UNESCO treaty say an Intangible Cultural Heritage listing could overly commercialize traditions. Nevertheless, over 150 countries are represented on the list, including Austria with its Schemenlaufen tradition in the city of Imst on Shrove Tuesday. Masked characters parade through the streets carrying bells, while witches, chimneysweeps and bears dance.
In many countries, globalization is pushing out native culture, such as traditional felt rugs in Kyrgyzstan. Production of the rugs, which are often embellished with many elaborate ornaments, is closely bound to the daily life of nomads. But Kyrgyz people under the age of 40 rarely possess traditional rug-making skills. Cheap, synthetic rugs pose a threat to the traditional craft.
Noken are hand-woven bags or nets from Papua in Indonesia. They're real multi-purpose items: They're used to catch fish and carry purchases, firewood, and even babies and small animals. The production of noken is labor intensive. Cord is spun from cut and soaked twigs and leaves. Every village has its own production rituals, patterns and traditions.
Trumpets made from calabash or opo squashes are the traditional musical instruments of the Bantu people of Busoga in Uganda. The bigwala ritual incorporates gourd trumpet music and dance. Singers and dancers circle around the trumpet players who play songs telling the history of the people. UNESCO has placed the ritual on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in urgent need of safeguarding.
In Azerbaijan, the tar is a folk instrument that is taught in every music school. Whoever builds a tar needs a lot of knowledge about the right woods and a talent for craftsmanship. UNESCO sees both the traditional production as well as the playing of the tar as an important part of Azerbaijani cultural identity.
Mexican Mariachi music has been on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2011. Violins and trumpets, vihuela, guitarron and singing are the musical framework of the tradition. The Mariachi wear finely crafted suits, cowboy boots and sombreros. They sing about their love of the earth, their homeland, nature and women.
Mourning, longing, matters of the heart - music is a great way to process emotion. Portuguese Fado, meaninga term destiny or fate, is a multicultural mix of poetry and music, a blend of Brazilian roots, rural traditions and urban rhythms. Fado is the symbol of Portuguese identity par excellence.
Taekkyeon was the first martial art to be recognized as a part of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2011. The steps and jumps of the centuries-old Korean martial art are fluid and dance-like - participants are constantly moving. The opponents underpin their technique with a type of battle call.
Complete harmony between horse and rider is what the French riding tradition demands. Respect for the horse is the number one priority. Each complicate dressage exercise had to be done with grace and elegance. Elite riders and horses are trained at the world-famous Le Cadre Noir riding school in Saumur in western France.
Which customs, crafts and traditions make it onto the UNESCO list won't be decided until 2014, once a committee of experts has reviewed the proposals. The selections won't officially be added to the list until 2016. Until then, Germany's traveling apprentices, seen here in their traditional outfits, will continue wandering through the country without a UNESCO title.
Culture is not just represented with monuments and museums. Dance, theater and handicrafts are also part of culture and have been honored by UNESCO since 2003.