Celebrating Imbolc with Wiki Loves Folklore

  • February 26, 2024

By Dr Sara Thomas, Programme Manager for Scotland

Wiki Loves Folklore is an international Wiki competition celebrating Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) across the world – like Wiki Loves Monuments, or Wiki Loves Earth, but for folk culture: festivals, music, food, dances, customs, storytelling, mythology, and seasonal events.  

As someone with a keen interest in all things folklore and intangible cultural heritage, I’m really keen to participate this year. And, as the start of the competition (1st February) coincided with Imbolc, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to capture some images…

In my non-Wiki life I spend a fair bit of time volunteering with other charities, one of which is the Beltane Fire Society in Edinburgh. Most of our year is taken up with working towards the celebration of two of the Celtic quarter days (Beltane and Samhuinn) with large fire festivals, but we sometimes put on smaller, community-focussed events at other points on the wheel of the year, like Yule / winter solstice. This year, the woman currently embodying the role of May Queen led on the organisation of a community storytelling event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for Imbolc / Imbolg / Brigid’s day, and as part of that, I helped to run a couple of workshops on how to make Brigid’s crosses (in this context, used as protection symbols for house and home) – capturing a few images for Wiki Loves Folklore as I went.

3 armed Brigid cross made at Imbolc by Lirazelf.
3 armed Brigid cross made at Imbolc by Lirazelf. CC BY-SA 4.0.

The UK Government is currently consulting on “some of the decisions regarding the first stage of implementing” the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the ratification of which is supported by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Scotland Partnership (which includes long-term Wikimedia UK partners Museums Galleries Scotland).  

Usually, when we talk about digital preservation of (cultural) heritage we’re discussing buildings, or physical artefacts like paintings. ICH can present some interesting challenges – how does an archivist approach a community tradition, or a way of life? One of the key points for me is reflected in the language of the UNESCO convention – the “safeguarding” of ICH, rather than the “preservation” – reflecting the fact that folk practices necessarily change over time, or location, for example. From a Wikimedia point of view, Wiki Loves Folklore is a wonderful opportunity to capture and share the culture of our communities.  

How to take part in Wiki Loves Folklore

You can find the landing page for the competition as a whole on Wikimedia Commons, as well as the individual upload pages for different countries. The competition runs 1st Feb – 31st March.

It’s a really simple process – just click on the “upload” button to upload images through the upload wizard, adding captions, descriptions, categories, and structured data. Remember also to enable email through your account, as this is how the international organisers would contact you if you win a prize!  

Scotland, Wales, and England pages for the international competition.

Ireland page for the competition run by Wikimedia Community Ireland.

To enable us to continue to preserve cultural heritage, you can support our Wikimedia UK’s work with a donation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *