Storytelling is an important way for people around the world to preserve their unique cultures and histories. Different cultures have different traditional styles of storytelling.

Protecting these traditions is important because they record how people understand the world around them and how they fit into the world.

From 1870 to 1914, many of the European nations like Britain and France participated in what is known as the Age of Imperialism. They did this by establishing colonies. When they conquered a country, it was normal to forbid native people from following their traditions.

The European rulers understood how powerful traditions like storytelling, native dances and ceremonies can be. They are activities that can unite and empower people by helping them understand their history, their identity and their place in the world.

Here are some examples of traditions from different parts of the world.

Hula is a Polynesian dance. Hawaiians use it to share tales about their history. The words in the songs and the hand motions of the dancers all work together to tell a story.

Shadow puppetry is a storytelling art form from China. Puppeteers use cutout figures to tell traditional Chinese folk tales. The performances are popular at weddings and parties.

Singing and poetry are popular forms of storytelling all over the world. Some cultures, like in Italy, have very strict structures for their poems. Others, like in Middle Eastern Zajal, encourage improvising and making things up as you go along.

Calypso is a kind of music that comes from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The musical rhymes provided a safe way for people to challenge the corrupt government, to express their frustrations with daily struggles and to record their history. Others are much more freeform.

As the world becomes more modern, many ancient traditions are in danger of dying because they are no longer widely practiced. If these traditions die, the entire world will lose unique pieces of its history.

Nothing can replace the hundreds of years of understanding that these stories, songs and dances have preserved. Each culture has its own way of interpreting the world and expressing its understanding of the world – and they are all valuable.

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