Cultural Reads 65: Paris Invader, Best of 2023, When is the New Year?

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with worldwide book, music, and movie recommendations.

After a great Christmas break with my girlfriend’s parents, who came from Colombia, I’m now moving into a new house. I hope you all had a great break, too!

Now, onto the newsletter with: The Best 2023 Movies and Global Albums, New Year’s Habits Worldwide, Paris Art and Sightseeing & The Power of One. 

🎬 The Ultimate Best Movies of 2023

2023 was a great movie year!

So, to ensure you have seen the greatest ones, I made a list of my favorite best movies of 2023.

📕 The Power of One (South Africa)

The Power of One is one of the best books I ever read. It was so good that I’m still sad that it’s over.

This adventurous historical novel tells the story of Peekah, a young boy from South Africa, during the apartheid regime.

His childhood is marked by humiliation, but by meeting several mentors and picking up boxing, he discovers the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.

The novel gave an excellent insight into the history. Aside from the horrifying apartheid system, I learned a tremendous lot about the Boer wars (#1 and #2) and the tension between the English and Dutch settlers.

You can check out the country page for more books from South Africa.

🎨 Paris Street Art & Sightseeing (France)

I was in Paris around New Year’s and starting to come across more and more 8-bit space invader artworks on buildings. 

I decided to do a bit of digging and discovered the Banksy-like artist is called Invader.

He’s been invading public spaces by bringing the 8-bit figures from a screen into the 3D world. Check out this map and see if he has any artwork in your area.

If you’re looking for food & sightseeing recommendations, here’s a document with tips from my friends.

🎧 10 Best Global Albums of 2023

The Guardian made a list of the ten best global albums of 2023 to wrap up the year. 

I didn’t know most of them, so it was a welcome surprise. Thanks, Erik, for the tip!

🔎 New Year's Habits Around the World

It took me a while to realize that many countries celebrate the New Year on different dates.

Western countries generally follow the solar calendar (the Earth’s orbit around the sun), whereas many Asian countries follow the lunar calendar. Ethiopia has its own calendar, which combines both. 

That’s why Vietnam celebrates New Year’s Eve on February 1st and Ethiopia on September 10th. Here’s a calendar from 2016 showing the differences.

Each country also has different ways of celebrating it.

In Colombia, for example, people put lentils in their pockets for good luck, wear yellow underwear, and eat 12 grapes at noon.

Here are nine interesting New Year’s Traditions From Cultures Around The World.

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Cultural Reads