Each year, UNESCO — the UN’s Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization — selects cultural artifacts so marvelous that they have to be preserved at all costs.

Current members of this vaunted list include kimchi making, Turkish coffee, and the Mediterranean diet. There are protocols in place for safeguarding these gems of human ingenuity, and some items are obscure enough to need the extra layer of defense. But many are so popular that there’s little risk of vanishing and induction is a just a formality. 

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This year, UNESCO added rumba, yoga, Belgian beer culture and 13 other examples of “intangible cultural heritage.” 

Rumba is a dance that reflects the diverse makeup of Cuban society, blending elements of African, Spanish, and Antillean dance. It was developed in marginalized and slave communities and has since gone global. 

“The dances and chants evoke a sense of grace, sensuality and joy that aims to connect people, regardless of their social and economic background, gender or ethnicity,” according to UNESCO’s description.  

Yoga, while now ubiquitous, originated in India, where it was developed to unify mind, body, and soul to promote general wellbeing. It’s safe to say that yoga will be around for some time.

And then we come to this year’s most gabbed-about addition: Belgian beer culture. 

There are more than 1,500 beers brewed in Belgium and, as a whole, the culture values quality ingredients, sustainability, innovation, and perfection of craft.  

Beer has pervaded Belgian life for centuries, culminating in the reverence you can find today. Belgium is so serious about beer that there’s a two-mile underground pipeline that ships 900 gallons of beer an hour straight from a brewery to kegs in bars to avoid disturbing the fragile hops. 

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In Belgium, monks brew beer in their monasteries, chefs pour beer in their frying pans, cheesemakers ferment their cheeses in beer, and beer experts known as zythologists are always on hand to share their insights. 

Just like yoga, Belgian beer has conquered the globe. It’s a glorious pastime, invoked and celebrated every day during happy hour, warming the cold on wintry nights, cooling the sweaty on sweltering afternoons, fostering all sorts of unlikely friendships, and easing people into weekends all around the world.  

This weekend you can be a global citizen and honor all the winners — a little rumba and Belgian beer and then some early morning yoga detox


Demand Equity

UNESCO Adds Rumba, Yoga, Belgian Beer to Protected List

By Joe McCarthy