We love stories. From the small ones we share in passing conversations to the Facebook posts we scroll through each morning and night, our daily lives revolve around them.
Stories provide us not only with entertainment and wonder, but also with historical context and personal connection to help us relate to each other and the world around us. And although our methods of storytelling have changed throughout the years, one thing remains true: Whether we are the storyteller or the captive audience, our love of storytelling is the common thread that connects us all in every culture and community of the world.
This week, thousands of people will gather across the globe in celebration of World Storytelling Day to honor of the art of oral storytelling. This year, storytelling enthusiasts will be challenged to share prose centered on the theme “Myths, Legends and Epics.”
Long before the days of screens and scrolling – or even the flipping of paper pages – oral storytelling was a tradition much loved by many cultures and was the focal point of communication for most communities. Oral storytelling is a story spoken to an audience for the purpose of creating community, entertaining and passing down the history of a culture from generation to generation – especially before written language was developed. Because of its purpose to foster close community, storytelling was often done in groups sitting around the storyteller in a circular fashion – similar to a campfire setting. Oral story telling combines songs, poetry, chants, dance, acting and much more to build a unique dialogue between the storyteller and audience as they participate in the creation of living art.
World Storytelling Day, originally established in Sweden as an event called “Alla berättares dag” (All storytellers day) in 1991, spread like wildfire across the seas to countries such as Western Australia, Mexico, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Canada, France, the United States and various countries in Africa and South America by 2009. It is the first global storytelling celebration of its magnitude, inviting participants to share and listen to stories from their own cultures as well as others around the world. It is a “global campfire” so to speak.
To kick off World Storytelling Day, celebrate your Century Park culture by reading the stories of a few residents who have become legends in their own unique ways! Check out Rosa’s story, Bill’s story and Renee’s story.