Olivier and ‘the Irony’: why the Russian new year’s tradition has not made the UNESCO list

UNESCO could not include in the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity such Russian Christmas traditions, like cooking and eating salad and watching the movie “Irony of fate”, because the Russian Federation refused to approve and ratify the international Convention on such a legacy. About it writes BBC.

Оливье и 'Ирония судьбы': почему российские новогодние традиции не внесли в список ЮНЕСКО

Photo: Depositphotos

This was reported by representatives of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO), reports the Agency RIA “Novosti”.

In the list of cultural traditions, placed under the protection of UNESCO, many non-trivial objects: from the philosophy of yoga, Uzbek pilaf and Armenian lavash to poetic duels between improvisers in Cyprus (the art of “tsiattista”).

To contribute to this list of beloved Soviet new year’s table attributes has offered UNESCO the Deputy of the state Duma from “United Russia” Victor Zubarev. In his application he listed not only the elements of the feast — Olivier, herring under a fur coat, jelly, but sledding, watching “twist of fate” playing in the snow and cutting the paper snowflakes.

Some commentators, however, believe that Russia is more worthy objects of intangible heritage: for example, the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky,the poetry of Pushkin and Brodsky, or, for example, the table of chemical elements Dmitry Mendeleyev.

In the UNESCO Convention, which came into force 13 years ago, involved 178 countries. But among them the USA, Russia and UK.

For this reason, Russia has no right to offer their properties for inclusion in the list. Nevertheless, Russia is represented in the list two paragraphs: this is the Yakut national epos “Olonkho” and the folklore of the semeiskie old believers living in Transbaikalia. Including them in the list at the suggestion of other countries in 2008, UNESCO urged Russia to think again about how to ratify the Convention.

“Olivier and “Irony of fate” is the debris of the Soviet identity that will disappear and not become some long-term intangible heritage, — says a Russian journalist semen Novoprudsky. — Important intangible cultural heritage of Russia is great literature, in my opinion (especially Chekhov, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in prose, Pushkin, the poet, Mandelstam and Brodsky in poetry), and the periodic table”.

Why Russia is not involved in the UNESCO Convention?

To approve and ratify the UNESCO document on the protection of the unique cultural practices and customs of any state may, at any time.

The Convention was created in 2003 and entered into force three years later, when I had enough of countries where parliaments have ratified it. By 2019 acceded to the Convention, 178 countries, including France, Germany, China and most developing countries.

When in 2018 the State Duma asked why Russia is not in this number, the Deputy from the Communist party Elena Drapeko — the head of the parliamentary Committee on culture said that the Convention, in its opinion, are harmful inhibited the development of the peoples of those countries that ratified it, and keeps such contentious traditions like dowry or the scourging.

The list includes heritage sites from 127 countries, mostly China.

UK abstains from participation, as in the formulation of UNESCO is an indication that the heritage needs to be protected and is under threat of extinction.

In response to the request of the Parliament why Britain is not among the parties to the Convention, Lord Ashton on behalf of the government said that from different UNESCO projects to choose those from which the country will benefit more — a storytelling and folk games parts of the United Kingdom and so perfectly preserved.

The United States is out of UNESCO and do not participate in any projects of the organization.

What is meant under UNESCO “intangible heritage”?

According to the text of the UNESCO Convention, “intangible cultural heritage” means the practices, forms of representations and expressions, knowledge and skills — as well as related instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage.

This intangible cultural heritage is recreated from generation to generation and creates a sense of identity and continuity.

Each year the list is updated: the parties to the Convention have to offer, what to add, and a special session each year in a new part of the world — the Committee approves the new features. The Committee rotates, it presents all the continents.

Judging by the fact that this year, UNESCO included in the list of mountaineering and traditional Thai massage, for getting the list phenomenon is not obliged to be on the verge of extinction. Reggae music and the philosophy of yoga is also unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future.

The criterion of uniqueness and originality more important. The UNESCO Convention also emphasizes that a custom or oral tradition to be repeated from generation to generation, shaping the cultural identity of the community.