Hi there. we have had some really busy time at school with projects and other tasks that we couldn’t be posting the last meetings we have had. However, here we are back on track.
In this meeting, we started discussing the way we celebrate Easter in our countries and was there when I found out that people in Vietnam don’t celebrate it and not even something similar. Therefore, I asked for other celebrations they do in that time of the year. Chi, mentioned a popular one called “Trung chu” that literally means Mid-autumn festival. This is specially meant for children, they make a huge parade around their neighborhoods with colorful torches, they are allowed to eat candies, cakes and also get some presents. It seemed really cool and reminded me about those parades with torches I used to do as a kid when I was in the Elementary school.
On the left a typical Vietnamese cake for the Mid-Autumn festival. On the right a big children’s parade commemorating this date.
We couldn’t quite compare these festivals with the way Peruvians celebrate Easter, but I can mention some main features we have for those dates such as the religious approach we have for this time where we visit different churches, listen the mass and also have some typical culinary traditions as not eating meat (chicken, pork or beef) but fish instead. Of course, this features may slightly vary from one city to another.
Our 5th meeting was on 7th of November and we met at cafe Siilinkari in Hämeenkatu. It was quiet when we went there which was perfect for the meeting. Our first meeting was at cafe Puisto with its delicious cakes and pastries but Siilinkari had really good cake too. My choice for the evening was some green tea and a ‘mokkapala’ which is a coffee flavoured chocolate cake, kind of like a brownie.
We discussed some Finnish and Dutch holidays and traditions. While many of the Finnish holidays don’t have much other traditions but drinking alcohol, the Dutch holidays seemed to be a lot more traditional and there are many holidays in a year that kids are excited about.
King’s day is celebrated on the 27th of April and it’s a national holiday in the Netherlands. The date marks the birthday of the king. On King’s Day there are a lot of flea markets where people are selling their used items. There are also many big festivities like concerts and other outdoor events. On King’s Day people usually wear orange clothes and there are orange pastries and drinks and so on.
Liberation Day is celebrated annually on the 5th of May. Liberation Day marks the end of the German occupation during World War II. On Liberation Day there are celebrations like parades and music festivals all around the Netherlands. It is a national holiday but it is a paid holiday only every 5th year.
Sint Maarten’s Day
Sint Maarten’s Day is celebrated every year on 11th of November. In the evening children go from door to door with self-made lanterns. They sing songs and receive candy in return. I had actually heard something about this tradition back when I was around 12 years old and I used to study German. It seemed to be quite similar with the German tradition. Sint Maarten’s Day is also similar to a Finnish tradition in the Palm Sunday when children dress up as witches and from door to door wishing good health with self-decorated osiers.
The festivities begin in mid-November when Sinterklaas arrives to the Netherlands. Sinterklaas arrives from Spain with a ship filled with presents to the children. Sinterklaas travels around the country and visits public places like schools and shopping centers. In the evening children put their shoes in front of the fire place with a carrot (for Sinterklaas’ horse) and sing a song so that Sinterklaas knows where to come. In the morning they will find candy and presents in their shoes. Common treats are small cookies called ‘pepernoten’ and chocolate letters. The children are told that bad children who don’t behave well are taken to Spain in a sack. The main event during Sinterklaas’ stay in the Netherlands takes place on 5th of December. On that day everyone receives presents. When children get older and no longer believe in Sinterklaas the tradition is that family members give each other presents in a similar way as in “Secret Santa”. Presents are packed in funny or unusual ways and given with a personal note that is often a humorous poem.
New Year’s Eve
The New Year’s Eve celebrations are quite similar in the Netherlands as in Finland and all around the world. Some traditional things for a Dutch New Year’s Eve are ‘oliebollen’ which are traditional Dutch doughnuts with raisin and a bonfire that is made of Christmas trees.
It was really nice getting to know all the different holidays and traditions there are in the Netherlands. Especially King’s Day sounds really interesting because I like flea markets a lot, maybe I will visit Netherlands at the end of April some year!
This time around we decided to go to see the opening of the Christmas market with Fruzsi and Boti in Keskustori and talk about our Christmas traditions.
We did not have any bigger plans for this meeting, just to meet up, walk around the market and see where the conversation would end up. Actually, meeting in the Christmas market was a good idea in a sense that we were able to see the things we were talking about in real and we also found new topics to talk about when seeing things.
However, ones again we realized that our cultures are rather similar to each other. There are no so many differences when it comes to the decorations, food or giving presents. It seems that those traditions are either Christian or European, and therefore common for us all.
The biggest differences we were able to name was that in Hungary it is not Santa Claus, who brings the presents on 24th of December, but baby Jesus. Even so, also kids in Hungary do believe to Santa Claus. He visits on 6th of December.
Another difference, though a very small one, is that in Hungary it is normal to hung candies to the Christmas tree whereas in Finland it is rather rare according to me.
Spain has always been a catholic country and all of our most important regional parties are related with the religion, saints and virgins. Parties are an important part of our culture, so that we decided to choose one from Cataluña and one from Madrid to get deep inside of them and train ourselves in the tradition of our cities.
Well, this is the biggest discovery I’ve made in this course. Do you remember what I’ve said about all the regional parties going around religion? Cataluña regional party doesn’t. Their regional party is about the Catalonian nation. The 11th of September in the morning they go to the Arc de Triomf where you can buy things related to their culture. In the afternoon they go to a demonstration to reclaim their independence and in the night they have outdoors free concerts and parties sponsored by Estrella Damm.
When it was my turn to explain my regional party, San Isidro, I realized that I was a bit lost about what were the typical things to do. We all know about the concerts and the parties of San Isidro but we were not really into the traditional stuff, so teaching Pablo about it made me research a bit and realize that I need to pay more attention to my own tradition before knowing other’s.
The last meeting was a week before Christmas. So we decided to listen to German Christmas songs, eat Christmas cookies and candies and drink some gluhwein. After listen to few Christmas songs we noticed that quite many were translated to Finnish too. We were listening songs from YouTube so there were music videos with the subtitles. We could easily follow the lyrics. There were a quite lot of words in the songs which no-one uses in real conversations. Theresa told us that it is because the songs are so old or the used forms fits better to the songs.
While eating cookies we talked about Christmas traditions. Some were just the same but there were some totally different. Christmas socks and leaving cookies or a shoe outside were traditions we do not have in Finland or at least not in our family. Weichnachtsmann is Santa Claus but the story behind it was a bit different than our Joulupukki :).
It was time to say goodbye and thank you. I really enjoyed studying German. We had a great teacher, a nice group and interesting lessons. I am happy that I took this course.
Our third meeting was in Koskikeskus! We went to the café and donut shop called Arnold’s for practicing free talk/smalltalk in German with Maija and Kaisa 🙂
While we were starting off easily with introducing ourselves again (this time in German only hehe) we went on to talk about more cultural topics like Christmas and childhood right after. It was so interesting to hear about Christmas traditions/rituals in Finland/Tampere! 😀 It made me look forward to the Christmas season here 🙂
While talking, I found out (about my own mother tongue, right XD) that there were two phrases to describe ACTIONS (keep that in mind, it doesn’t always work out, but for ACTIONS, they do!!!) pretty easily in the past and the future:
Ich gehe _________(insert infinitive). = I am going to ___________ (inf).
Example: Ich gehe jetzt schlafen. = I am going to sleep now. (Requires the action of moving, initiating a process; you’re using the present tense but since you are not asleep or in bed yet, it has a futuristic meaning – same as in English, right? 😉 )
Ich war _______ (inf). = I was ___________ (inf).
Example: Ich war einkaufen. = I was shopping. (Also only applicable for actions/processes. Shopping requires moving around, selecting your stuff, paying, etc. – you see the ACTIONS in there? :D)
Maybe, some of you got something out of this post, it might help and come in handy when you are talking about everyday life in a smalltalk! I’d be glad if it helped! 😀 See you next entry! ♥