December 25, 2012
Happy Holidays from Magic Sauce Media!!
Happy Holidays from Magic Sauce Media!!
November 25, 2012
The American Thanksgiving Tradition: Where Did It Go?
Thanksgiving has always been one of those holidays I never took lightly, mainly because it was the one holiday above all other holidays, where we sat down at a table together as a family...one massive large table. While this was also the plan at Christmas and attempts were made and often fulfilled, it wasn't quite the same as the tradition that we forced upon ourselves on Thanksgiving.
My family wasn't exactly "sitters." They didn't like to sit or really know how to sit, at least not for long, so it was remarkable that people showed up, did as they were told and handled hours of conversation on end.
I was born in the sixties, so after dinner, women did the dishes and men drank gin martinis and manhattans in a separate room far away from the kitchen.
Alternatively, the men headed to "the gazable" to smoke as it was famously called at my Uncle Edgar's house which was perched on a slope along a country road, one that had its fair share of pitfalls getting in and out of the driveway after a heavy snowfall.
While we weren't a family that piled on the dinner "grace" at the table, nor did we go around the table and share what we were grateful for, we were expected to talk about what we were "doing." I wasn't aware of how uncommon it was at the time, but my grandfather, father, and nearly all of my uncles and cousins ran their own businesses as did a couple aunts, so everyone was born with an instinctive entrepreneurial spirit.
In the 60s and 70s, that meant something a little different than it does today and all the men regardless of how many hours they put in during the day, also mowed, cleaned, scraped, painted, hammered and plastered during any other spare window they had.
With military men at the table who had toughened and roughened from far too many wars, the gatherings were full of far more alpha testosterone influenced flannel shirts than dresses with flowers and pearls. The men were men, the kind who wouldn't settle for anything but strong women who could conquer the world in case they couldn't one day.
One thing that bonded us during these holiday functions was games and we played plenty of them late into the night -- from cards to board games to charades. And, rest assured, no one believed that children would be messed up for life if they weren't tucked in by 8 pm every night.
Like all families, there was always a Great Aunt Hilda or Great Uncle Alton snoring in some remote room while another had a TV on that no one was watching.
Great Grandma Bert lived through at least four husbands (we lost count) and would always insist on an extra shot in her eggnog and that was after she yelled at any son who would listen to something in the world she wasn't happy about, which grew with age.
While every woman in the family baked something to contribute to the massive pile of food, there always seemed to be at least one white box of Russell Stover Chocolates on the table, the kind that cost about $3 from a nearby drug store and was brought be some lame man in the family who couldn't be bothered to spring for anything else. He figured because he could buy the box with a bow on it (they all included one around holiday time), he was safe from being completely embarrassed. Great Grandma Bert used to take a bite out of one of these highly sugared milk chocolate concoctions and if she didn't like it, she simply put it back in the box, not bothering to hide the indentation her false teeth made in the process.
As kids, our mouths would drop as she proceeded to do this to several pieces of chocolate. As a woman who was born in the 1800s, had thrown one husband out of the house and ran for some political office over the years, she didn't hold back any punches. Catching the glares from her great grandchildren, she'd pipe up and say to us laughing, "if you end up living close to a century old, you can do whatever the hell you want too."
She was always a source of amusement for her grandchildren and great grandchildren although her sons seemed to endure more than laugh, yet they all seemed to respect her strength and persistence despite how difficult she was to manage at times.
Thanksgiving memories included her boldness and directness, a symbolic force in all of our lives proving that even a woman born in the 1800s who was barely 5 feet tall could hold court and utilize her power.
I never got to ask her what the source of her strength was through it all because I was never old enough to understand that a woman had such a thing as a "source" until years later.
I sometimes wonder if she's not flitting around my garden disguised as a bird or perhaps the snarly cat in my neighbor's garden who while gets into night fights from time-to-time, seems to protect the houses in the neighborhood.
From her place of strength came confidence and the gift of the gab, not quiet Gandhi-like solitude. No one in the family seemed to be short on words and not unlike an old fashioned Italian family even though our heritage came from elsewhere, everyone talked and if there was a shy member of the family, I never met them.
If someone became aggravated, annoyed or bored, they'd simply get up from the table and go bark at someone else.
In between all of this chaos was a serious meal: turkey, mashed potatoes with gobs of butter (Aunt Jo made the best of the lot), stuffing, squash, homemade cranberry sauce, pearled onions, glazed carrots, and some thick casserole dish that was loaded with ingredients bound to destroy your arteries, but between the eggnog, chocolate, whiskey and cheese at the onslaught, no one was counting.
And somewhere, somehow between the bickering and the games, we sang. Music was always part of anything we did, whether that meant a family member playing the piano or an old fashioned record we played on a turntable that someone thought was grand enough to warrant repeating every year. Dancing often followed. All of it became a tradition even if it is a blurry mess of one that is hard to piece together it was so long ago.
This concept of tradition was something I took with me as I made my way out into the world even after nearly every family member died, decreasing the pool of gatherings over the years to the fragmented unrecognizable particles they are today.
For those who are still living, they don't unite as one, but as an independent separate families in their own homes. Small and isolated but familiar and safe, forever clinging to something fuzzy off in the distance that may bring them one smile from such a far away time that it now seems like its someone else's dream.
It's one of the experiences in my life that made me appreciate other people's cultures as I made my way around the world. When the Swedes would gather around a Christmas Tree at midnight the day before, and held hands as they circled the large fur, it was merely a Nordic replica of my own family's strangeness of playing particular songs as the tree went up, while men took on one role and woman another.
Children and children's children are often the catalysts that keep traditions alive and when fewer families have them or the great aunts who insisted on keeping traditional gatherings alive have passed, the tradition becomes a mere memory, one that shares little snippets and pieces to someone else in a weird, but sweet kind of way.
Since my family has become a smattering of black and white prints on a refrigerator door, rather than guests at a dinner table, I didn't want the concept of Thanksgiving as I once experienced it to become so blurry that I would forget the taste of that insanely thick casserole dish I can never remember the name of, or the smells of my Aunt Betty's kitchen before we polished off loaves of sweet breads freshly pulled from her 1930's stove.
OR, the wet smell of the orange and red leaves that were days away from being covered by snow. Then there was the taste of the icicle that hung from my Uncle Dick's house, the smell of our car as we drove home with leftovers after a long succulent day and the smell of my aunt's basement as we crawled our way through the dusty and dark nooks and crannies waiting for appetizers to be served.
Later, other marvelous things were added like the pumpkin and blueberry pies I baked, one of which won top prize in the New York State Fair, and my grandmother's unforgettable rice pudding with cloves and cinnamon. Food mattered. Conversation mattered. Games mattered. Bickering mattered. Being real mattered. And, most importantly, showing up mattered.
I'm astounded how many people don't bother with Thanksgiving at all. In the growing melting pot that we live in, it's not surprising. This year, I ended up having a late dinner with six non-Americans kind of by accident.
Family gatherings start early for most traditional American families and dinner is often served between 2 and 6 depending on the culture and part of the country, but rarely later. It was clear that it wasn't a yank who organized the dinner since the dinner reservation was at 7 at an Italian restaurant, one which oddly had a Turkey dinner special in honor of Thanksgiving.
The dressing of course was made with Italian sausage, the cranberry sauce wasn't homemade and there was no squash. My heart stopped a beat when I realized there wouldn't be squash at the table, but it wasn't quite as bad as the stuffed cream puffs that showed up for dessert. I looked around the room and sited families having dinner, and many tables had several looking down at their cell phones rather than talking to the people in front of them. I looked behind me and the cell phones were there too. To my left? Yup. To my right. Heads buried in cell phones everywhere all in lieu of a physical conversation.
The flow of that human connection is suddenly lost and the magic moments that you used to have thousands of are now diminished to perhaps one if you're lucky in an hour sitting.
Later on the train, I checked the news and was sadly reminded of another new American Thanksgiving "tradition": Black Friday, where Americans stand in long lines bundled in warm jackets waiting for a store to open.
This isn't to say that there were not plenty of American families eating dessert at the dinner table together at the same time, but it does mean that millions (not hundreds) forego that experience because "getting a deal before anyone else" has become a higher priority.
With Target and Walmart offering Black Friday deals earlier than ever this year, things got ugly: one man threatened fellow shoppers by pulling a gun while in line, another threatened to stab others waiting in a Kmart line and there was a scuffle that broke out over a cell phone deal at a Walmart.
Let's put this into perspective. Sometime in the 1960s, some brilliant marketing genuis (aka idiot), decided that Black Friday should fall on the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to thanks, family and gratitude. Somehow along the way, we traded family reunion for retail, and togetherness and gratitude for spending money.
The term “Black Friday” was originally coined to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season and somehow it has migrated into a kind of madness that derails people away from the core things that Thanksgiving represents, a far cry from how our ancestors celebrated this ancient November feast.
Local boosters in Virginia, Florida, and Texas like others who came off the boat in the 1600's, gave thanks for setting foot again on dry land. Others tout it as the annual celebration to give thanks at the close of the harvest season. How and why did retail take over a holiday focused on family, gratitude and giving?
Traditions are often there to serve as a reminder of what's real and sacred in a culture...in a nation. How did this country become SO far disconnected to what's real and sacred?
While I declined the cream puff whatever they were at the end of my Thanksgiving meal and quietly reflected how foreign the whole evening felt, I realized that 'of course' it would and should feel foreign when I was the only born and bred yank there.
I then smiled at how natural such an occurrence would be in my life having been a global traveler for so many years. It made sense that while the non-Americans at my table now lived in this country, they didn't grow up with a tradition I hold so dear. To them, they didn't know that squash should be on the table, that 7 pm is an odd time for a Thanksgiving meal, and that even if technology could be part of a conversation, that sharing was a very important part of the dinner.
They didn't grow up with this inherent tradition that houses so many beautiful and tragic memories for so many yanks across so many generations. How could they know I thought quietly.
Then I thought about so many Thanksgivings gone right and all the ones that went wrong over the years. What was constant was a bond that brought us closer together year after year.
There's a reason the words "thanks" and "giving" are in the word Thanksgiving. In fact, it's the only holiday we have as Americans that has such precious words, two words that depict the most sacred things we have: humanity.
And yet, the dismissal of this tradition was prevalent in so many ways this year, from the activities the night before, to the barrage of media coverage of Black Friday on the day of, to the next two days with a friend who spent more time on his laptop and cell phone than in a physical conversation, even during a visit from other friends while in the same room. Did we even make eye contact five times in two days?
My point here is not to beat up on my friend's connection to technology - I have my moments...we all do, especially for those of us who live in Silicon Valley. My point is how increasingly common this is becoming among friends and family and more importantly, how little we recognize the fact that this choice values a machine connection over a human connection. It has become so common that we no longer see it as "odd" or "sad" or "disrespectful" or "rude" or "distracted". What this pattern is not is present.
What followed was a failed attempt to share an old fashioned story with my friend. The story is from a record I have from the 1960s, a moment in time so lost that it is hard to find on eBay or other collectable sites today. The tale is told by a little fir tree who is looking for his true purpose in life, a story I carry with me into board rooms and other areas of my life to this day. It is a story that gives me strength.
The gift was lost: not separating from "a machine" for just a few moments in time is in fact a decision to separate from "a human" during those same few moments.
I lived in Amsterdam many years ago, a place I still hold dear to my heart. When I was about to leave the country, my closest friend who was a local, announced that he wanted to throw me a small farewell party at his house. The time of year was between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Before the evening was over, he said it was time for my gift. What followed is one of the most precious gifts I have received to this day.
Hans was a doctor and while he was not a religious man in the 'traditional' sense, he did attend a Russian Orthodox Church where he sang in a choir. He had asked his group to join him in writing lyrics and music dedicated to me and my departure from Holland.
The song was written, the group had rehearsed and then, the voices sang out in four languages while a harp played, and then...the girl cried. She cried from a place of gratitude and "thanks." She cried because it was one of the most "giving" moments she had received in her life. It was a true Thanksgiving moment, one this girl will never forget.
I had wanted to give my friend "a gift of sorts" on that sunny Thanksgiving weekend day. It saddens me to think that technology can control our life so much that we can forego tradition, a childhood memory or the true essence of what a holiday means because of addictive distractions that remove us far away from our center.
I failed to communicate why this Thanksgiving tradition should mean something to all of us and why we should take the time to embrace humanity in honor of it. And so here I am attempting to do so in a blog window while the sound of cat fights echo outside my bedroom window.
As random people were starring down at their cell phones for most of their Thanksgiving dinner the day before, rather into their friend's and family's eyes, I couldn't help but think of all the gifts....all the magical moments they were losing because of it.
What we lose by glazing over tradition and its true meaning is thousands of potential magic moments that bond humans together and form friendships that last a lifetime. By not being present with each other whether its because of Black Friday, laptops and cell phones, the inability to share what is meaningful to us and what we appreciate about each other most, or simply not showing up, we stand to lose the very core of what makes us human.
Photo Credits: Hands: Human Connection Institute, Family shots: Renee Blodgett, Human Circle shot - Theadhikaris and Turkey photo: Stockbyte.
July 03, 2012
In Honor of Our Childhood Fourth of July Memories
I grew up in the northern Adirondack Mountains, so summers were about as perfect as any child could hope for. Within a two hour drive, there are over 60 lakes, the majority of them available for swimming or boating.
If you are changing the radio station in your car as you drive through the town of Caroga Lake, you might miss the shops, or should I say shop.
There's one small convenience store where you can buy necessities and food, a laundromat, a gas station, a cafe where you can get breakfast, lunch and homemade rice pudding, a pizza joint, a bar with a restaurant attached, and a soft serve ice cream stand. On the left is the 'other lake,' the west side of Caroga Lake, which is attached to the 'east side of the lake' where I grew up, via a bridge.
When motor boats pass under the bridge to get to the 'other lake,' they have to slow down to a snail's crawl and raise their motor since its so shallow, although my insane uncles and father skiied under the bridge as kids, ruining more than one engine along the way, something my grandfather was so furious about, the keys were taken away for half the summer.
Also on the west side of the lake was a very small amusement park called Shermans which has been sold twice since then and although its no longer a 'real' amusement park, the locals who have been around for generations still talk about the times Shermans was open for merry-go-round rides, games, dancing and dinners all summer.
My memories revolve around live music, stuffed animals, bumper cars and soft serve ice cream. The Frostee stand at the front of the park shown below, used to have a line day or night and although its offerings were pretty simple - vanilla or chocolate - the cones were creamy and delicious, and at the time, they used unprocessed dairy products.
"Big band" played in the large hall next to the frostee stand and they had family style dinners that were affordable for most families. I used to love to watch my grandparents waltz or jitterbug and they weren't alone; most couples from that generation spent time kicking their heals up on the floor since dancing was such an integral part of their era.
Despite the fact that my memory included a lot of over indulging of martinis and manhattans, the dancing and laughter somehow diffused the drunkedness not to mention the smoke in the air that exuded from everyone's cigarettes dangling from their right hand fingers.
Families hosted clam bakes at their camps -- adults drank, smoke and chucked clams, and children swam, played tetherball and badminton. Joint activities included cards, croquet and skiing and afterwards, the women always retreated to the kitchen to wash up 'together' while the men lit up again while preparing the firepit for marshmallows in the evening.
In the seventies, I always felt that there was no better place to be during the summer. While Caroga Lake may have been the poor stepchild to some of the larger more upscale lakes like the Sacandaga or Lake George, which had many more year-round homes and expensive properties, it had its own charm that was hard to beat. It still does.
Sadly, it doesn't draw the crowds it once did, some of which is the result of the economy, the amusement park no longer in operation and so many businesses shutting down.
Fireworks would be the draw on July 4 and us east side dwellers would venture over to the west side often by boat to see the fireworks go off, although the best memories were of the fireworks we fired off ourselves. Whatever we could afford was shot out over the lake from our docks and patios.
When you live on a lake, the water becomes the centerpoint. As kids, we used to bath in the lake every day. Not everyone had showers and most were on septic tanks. Often even before breakfast, we'd throw the plastic neon green Prell tube out 20 feet or so and swim out to greet it.
You'd wash your hair, swim for a bit and then return to a full breakfast you'd share outside. The lake took a beating in those days. Some people even drained the water from their sinks into the lake after washing dishes.
No one realized at the time the damage the soaps and conditioners were doing to the bottom of the lake, changing the ecosystem, creating 'weeds' and affecting the fish. As soon as the warnings were out, people stopped 'soaping' and started a committee to preserve the lake. My grandfather was a big part of this committee, which was set up through the "lake association" dedicated to 'lake business.'
Part of 'lake business' included the festivities on the Fourth of July. We'd help my grandfather with his association duties, which on the Fourth, meant driving around in a station wagon with the windows down and a bull horn. Shouting as loud as we could through this thing, we let residents know about the boat parade that would take place that evening and that we had flares for sale....a buck a piece.
Flares were used for the front of your proprety when it got dark, which meant that the entire lake would light up in red, adding to the magic of Independence Day.
Flares were also used for those participating in the boat parade and placed on the back of the boat, so the line of boats too would light up as a red circle. Magic.
If you were in the boat parade, you'd talk to people in nearby boats and our voices would echo across the lake, so everyone heard what we were saying. In a small community, everyone knows everyone else's business and this was part of learning about who was doing what. As it got darker and darker, you either made your way over to the other lake for the official fireworks or you headed back to your own camp to light up your own.
Usually we did both.
As I got older, we'd head to New Hampshire to buy fireworks, since it was pretty much illegal to purchase them everywhere else. Our neighbors always had some they'd shoot off from their docks as well yet the more expensive "splashy stars in the sky" were only part of the experience.
There were also sizzlers and firecrackers, to ensure no one slept, as light would illuminate the sky and sounds would echo across the lake all night long.
The thing that was most memorable aside from the shared firework experience between the camps, was the community that was created as a result.
The front of the camps were open (for the most part, they still are), so you could walk across the front of the properties visiting neighbors, borrow an egg or milk if you needed to, or take in the 'coming of nightfall' on another family's front porch. Along Garlock Road, which was a dirt road for my entire childhood, the families have lived there for as long as I can remember....second and third generations are not uncommon.
So, today, I light a candle for my grandparents who gave me the best summer memories any child could hope for and one for the Caroga Lake community who gave me many years of red lit moments as we brought in the Fourth of July together star after star, year after year.
Photo Credits: housedreamsphoto and Caroga Lake site. All of my best photos of these precious moments were not taken digitally.
January 02, 2012
A Bear's Way of Bringing in 2012!
January 01, 2012
New Years Greetings!!
January 1, 2012 in America The Free, Europe, Holidays, Magic Sauce Media, New England, New York, On Africa, On Australia, On China, On Costa Rica, On East Africa, On Fiji, On France, On Germany, On India, On Italy, On Japan, On South Africa, On Spain, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 28, 2011
If You Only Had One New Years Resolution....
If you only had one New Year's resolution, it might be to recognize where this statement applies and do something about it. I'm sure it will lead to countless things you cannot even imagine until you start writing them down.
"Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation.
So does inaction sap vigor from the mind."
-- Leonardo da Vinci.
AND I'd add to this....it also saps vigor from your life.
December 25, 2011
Christmas in Every Language & Customs Around the World
Language is one of the most powerful things we have and when we can't communicate with someone because we don't know their language, we rely on hand gestures, hugs, expressions and the most universal ones: smiles when we're happy, tears when we're not.
I've spend the holidays in several countries over the years including India, Thailand, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, England, the Netherlands, Israel, France and a few places I'm sure I'm forgetting. Celebrations obviously differ even when you're celebrating within the same culture or religion. Jewish friends in New York buy a Hannukah bush, others don't honor it at all. If you've grown up in New England or northern Europe, snow often comes with Christmas and it becomes an association for you. If you live in Australia or Africa, chances are you've never had a white christmas.
Brazilians have a tradition of creating a nativity scene or Presepio, whose origins come from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. The Presepio is common in northeastern Brazil (Bahi, Sergipe, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Maranhao, Ceara, Pernambuco, Piaui and Alagoas).
In Denmark, a christmas feast was traditionally celebrated at midnight, where a special rice pudding is served. In the pudding, a single almond is hidden and whoever finds it will have good luck for the coming year. The bringer of gifts is known as Julemanden and arrives in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, a sack over his back. Sound famliar? He is asissted by Yuletide chores by elves called Juul Nisse, who are said to live in attics.
In Iraq, Christian families light candles, light a bonfire of thorn bushes and sing. If the thorns burn to ashes, good luck will be granted. When the fire dies, each person jumps over the ashes three times and make a wish.
Like in many Latin American countries, Nicaragua retains many of the customs of old Spain. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, people stroll the streets where there are many things to buy: candles, Nativity pictures, toys and foods. Children carry fragrant bouquets to the alter of the Virgin and sing carols. On Christmas Eve, church bells beckon the people to Midnight Mass.
In South America, Venezuelans attend a daily early morning church service between December 16th and 24th called Misa de Aguinaldo ("Early Morning Mass.") In Caracas, the capital city, it is customary to roller-skate to this service and many neighborhoods close the streets to cars until 8 a.m. Before bedtime children tie one end of a piece of string to their big toe and hang the other out the window. The next morning, rollerskaters give a tug to any string they see hanging.
In Japan, Christmas was apparently brought over by Christian missionaries but today, it has become very commercialized largely because gift giving is something that appeals to the culture. This is an interesting and funny story if its true, but in the scene of the Nativity when it first came to Japan, was so foreign for them because Japanese babies don't sleep in cradles. Like the states, they eat turkey on Christmas Day (ham is also common with many families) and in some places, there are community Christmas trees. Houses even have evergreens and mistletoe. They also have a god or priest known as Hoteiosho, who closely resembles Santa Claus, often depicted as an old man carrying a huge pack. He is thought to have eyes in the back of his head.
And, you've gotta love the Scots since they have so many quirky customs considering how close they live to the English. Celebration around the holidays is much bigger for New Years Eve than it is for Christmas, something they refer to as Hogmanay. This word may derive from a kind of oat cake that was traditionally given to children on New Year's Eve. The first person to set foot in a residence in a New Year is thought to profoundly affect the fortunes of the inhabitants. Generally strangers are thought to bring good luck. Depending on the area, it may be better to have a dark-haired or fair-haired stranger set foot in the house. This tradition is widely known as "first footing."
In the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia and before that known as Bohemia), they bring their traditions from the 10th century home of Good King Wenceslaus, the main character in the familiar English Christmas carol. It is said that English troops, fighting in Bohemia hundreds of years later, brought the song home with them. St. Nicholas is called Svaty Mikalas and is believed to climb to earth down from heaven on a golden rope with his companions, an angel and a whip-carrying devil.
An ancient tradition shared by the Czechs and in Poland involves cutting a branch from a cherry tree and putting it in water indoors to bloom. If the bloom opens in time for Christmas, it is considered good luck and also a sign that the winter may be short.
I'm amazed how many of these traditions involve some superficial physical ritual that somehow tells us whether good luck or bad luck will fall upon us, not unlike snapping a chicken wish bone in two I guess...or flipping a coin.
Below is a fabulous and fun list of Merry Christmas and Happy New Years in many languages from around the world. Obviously, we didn't capture them all but we did include a healthy list to get you started with practicing but you never know when you will come across someone from another culture around the holidays.
Alsatian: E güeti Wïnâchte un e gleckichs Nej Johr
Arabic: أجمل التهاني بمناسبة الميلاد و حلول السنة الجديدة (ajmil at-tihānī bimunāsabah al-mīlād wa ḥilūl as-sanah al-jadīdah)
Armenian: Շնորհաւոր Նոր Տարի եւ Սուրբ Ծնունդ: (Shnorhavor Nor Daree yev Soorp Dzuhnoont) Բարի կաղանդ և ամանոր (Paree gaghant yev amanor)
Bengali: শুভ বড়দিন (shubho bôṛodin)
Cherokee: ᏓᏂᏍᏔᏲᎯᎲ & ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᏤ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᎠᏌᏗᏒ - (Danistayohihv & Aliheli'sdi Itse Udetiyvasadisv)
Cheyenne: Hoesenestotse & Aa'eEmona'e
Cornish: Nadelik Lowen ha Blydhen Nowydh Da and Nadelik Looan ha Looan Blethen Noweth
Danish: Glædelig jul og godt nytår
English: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Estonian: Rõõmsaid Jõule ja Head Uut Aastat and Häid Jõule ja Head Uut Aastat
Fijian: Me Nomuni na marau ni siga ni sucu kei na tawase ni yabaki vou
Filipino: Maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
French: Joyeux Noël et bonne année
German: Frohe/Fröhliche Weihnachten - und ein gutes neues Jahr / ein gutes Neues / und ein gesundes neues Jahr / und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr
German (Swiss): Schöni Fäschttäg / Schöni Wienachte -- und e guets neus Jahr / en guete Rutsch is neue Johr -- Schöni Wiehnachte und es guets Neus -- Schöni Wiänachtä, äs guets Nöis
German (Bavarian): Froue Weihnåcht'n, und a guad's nei's Joah
Haitan Creole: Jwaye Nowèl e Bònn Ane
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew: חג מולד שמח ושנה טובה - Chag Molad Sameach v'Shanah Tovah
Hungarian: Kellemes karácsonyt és boldog új évet
Indonesian: Selamat hari natal dan tahun baru
Irish: Nollaig shona duit/daoibh (Happy Christmas to you). Beannachtaí na Nollag (Christmas Greetings). Beannachtaí an tSéasúir (Season's Greetings) and Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit/daoibh (Prosperous New Year). Also, Bliain úr faoi shéan is faoi mhaise duit/daoibh (Happy New Year to you)
Italian: Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo
Japanese: メリークリスマス (merī kurisumasu) -- New Year greeting - 'Western' style
新年おめでとうございます (shinnen omedetō gozaimasu)
New Year greetings - Japanese style
明けましておめでとうございます (akemashite omedetō gozaimasu)
旧年中大変お世話になりました (kyūnenjū taihen osewa ni narimashita)
本年もよろしくお願いいたします (honnen mo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu)
Klingon: QISmaS DatIvjaj 'ej DIS chu' DatIvjaj (sg) and QISmaS botIvjaj 'ej DIS chu' botIvjaj (pl)
Korean: 즐거운 성탄절 보내시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요 and (jeulgeoun seongtanjeol bonaesigo saehae bok manhi bateusaeyo)
Kurdish: Kirîsmes u ser sala we pîroz be (and) Kirîsmes u salî nwêtan lê pîroz bê
Lithuanian: Linksmų Kalėdų ir laimingų Naujųjų Metų
Maltese: Il-Milied Ħieni u s-Sena t-Tajba - Awguri għas-sena l-ġdida
Maori: Meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa
Mongolian: Танд зул сарын баярын болон шинэ жилийн мэндийг хүргэе and (Tand zul sariin bayriin bolon shine jiliin mendiig hurgey)
Navajo: Ya'at'eeh Keshmish
Nepali: क्रस्मसको शुभकामना तथा नयाँ वर्षको शुभकामना - (krismas ko subhakamana tatha nayabarsha ko subhakamana)
Norweigan: God jul og godt nytt år (Bokmål) and God jol og godt nyttår (Nynorsk)
Old English: Glæd Geol and Gesælig Niw Gear
Punjabi: ਮੈਰੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਸਮਸ। / میری کرِسمس (merī krismas - not used) and ਨਵਾਂ ਸਾਲ/ਵਰਾ ਮੁਬਾਰਕ। / نواں سال، ورہا مبارک (navā̃ sāl/varā mubārak)
Raotongan: Kia orana e kia manuia rava i teia Kiritimeti e te Mataiti Ou
Romanian: Crăciun fericit şi un An Nou Fericit
Samoan: Ia manuia le Kerisimasi ma le Tausaga Fou
Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
Slovak: Veselé vianoce a Štastný nový rok
Spanish: ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo!
Swahili: Krismasi Njema / Heri ya krismas -- Heri ya mwaka mpya
Swedish: God jul och gott nytt år
Tahitian: Ia orana no te noere and Ia orana i te matahiti api
Thai: สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส และสวัสดีปีใหม่ - (sùk săn wan-krít-mâat láe sà-wàt-dee bpee mài)
Tibetan: ༄༅།།ལོ་གསར་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ། - (Losar La Tashi Delek - Happy New Year)
Tongan: Kilisimasi fiefia mo ha ta'u fo'ou monū'ia
Ukranian: Веселого Різдва і з Новим Роком
(Veseloho Rizdva i z Novym Rokom)
Xhosa: Siniqwenelela Ikrisimesi Emnandi Nonyaka Omtsha Ozele Iintsikelelo
Yiddish: אַ פֿרײליכע ניטל און אַ גוטער נײַער יאָר - (A freylikhe nitl un a guter nayer yor)
The above list was a sample of a longer list from Omniglot, a site dedicated to languages from around the world. Visit their site for more languages including pronunciations. They also made the following note: Christmas is not universally celebrated and there are a number of different dates for Christmas and New Year depending on which calendar is used. Orthodox Christians who use the Julian calendar, for example in Russia and Serbia, celebrate Christmas on January 7. Another collection of phrases for the holidays can be found here. Also check out this link on Christmas Around the World.
December 25, 2011 in America The Free, Belize, Europe, Fiji, Holidays, Israel, New England, New York, On Africa, On Australia, On China, On Costa Rica, On East Africa, On Fiji, On France, On Germany, On Guatemala, On India, On Italy, On Japan, On People & Life, On South Africa, On Spain, Reflections, San Francisco, South America, Travel, United Kingdom, WBTW | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 31, 2010
2010 in Review: Time to Reflect & Pay Respect to Another YearSeasons Greetings and a hooray for an incredible year, one which will be over within hours. It's time to reflect on everything we've learned and experienced over the past year as well as give gratitude to the amazing people we've encountered along our annual journey. It's now time to move into a new decade, but before we do, below are a few highlights from 2010 as seen through my eyes across a few continents. Enjoy! And, Happy New Year! to you and yours. See you on the other side.
December 27, 2010
Who Said You Couldn't Get a Heart Attack From Vegetarian?
This year, I joined a friend's annual Christmas Day dinner in Montara, along the northern California coast. I offered to make a salad and little did I know what an excellent choice that was given that 99% of the crew of 20 or so were vegetarians.
Although I went vegetarian for a few years myself many moons ago and get all the merits of doing so from a health perspective (I may not have had more energy but my skin glowed and I felt a helluva lot lighter), I don't associate vegetarian with Christmas dinner.
I grew up with grandparents, great grandparents and tons of great aunts and uncles, all of whom spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and eating dishes with tons of butter, not to mention bacon, sausage, and beef lasagne. And as for the holidays? Split pea soup with bacon, shrimp cocktail, and turkey and ham (we often had both).
Given that I love vegetables and could be happy with an all veggie meal, I set myself up for the let down of NOT having a traditional turkey or ham on December 25, even though I very rarely eat either. After all, something had to compensate for being away from the snow, away from New England holiday spirit and away from all the conventions I grew up with, none of which seem to have transported its way to the west coast.
Appetizers started with some fabulous goat cheese from some fabulous Mediterranean country with the perfect amount of organic cranberries. There was also spinach pie aka Spanakopita(pronounced /ˌspænəˈkɒpɪtə/; Modern Greek σπανακόπιτα, from σπανάκι, spanáki, spinach, and πίττα, pítta, pie), a Greek savory pastry in the burek family with a filling of chopped spinach, feta cheese (sometimes served with ricotta cheese, as it is less expensive, and adds creaminess), onions or green onions, egg, and seasoning.
The filling is wrapped or layered in phyllo (filo) pastry with butter and/or olive oil, either in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, or rolled into individual triangular servings (see burek). Spanakopita is golden in color when baked, the color often enhanced by butter and egg yolk. Other white, fresh, preferably salted cheeses may also mixed with, or substituted for, the feta cheese. Okay, can we just say it was all YUM and move onto the next one. I poured myself a glass of Cabernet from the southern valley and moved on.
The dishes started coming out. First there was my salad which was the least interesting of the lot but it was healthy and included almonds, flax seeds, raisins, and a tangerine olive oil dressing.
Heavy cheese dishes which I couldn't eat but looked and smelled incredible were the cauliflower leek tart and the tomato polenta that oozed with so much sauce and cheese that I had to stay away, or rather my arteries had to stay away. It's not as if there weren't at least ten other choices.
For one, my favorite was an incredible vegetarian stuffing that the host's mother made. As I was making my way through Round One and thinking, this tastes just like my great grandmother used to make, she confirmed that it did in fact have a grandmother's stamp on it and even if I had the recipe, there's no chance in hell I could repeat the same culinary experience. Seconds it was and this time with another homemade accompaniment - cranberries of course. One pound of cramberries mixed with two cups of sugar and one cup of red wine (like a merot). Scrumptious.
Corn and egg were whipped together for another delicacy that was served in a casserole-like dish and cut into squares. Did I mention the sauteed brussel sprouts, peas and bright orange squash that had so much better on it that you swore your great grandmother had returned just to drop off the dish?
Then to top it off, four boxes of chocolates and squares, two plates of homemade cookies (including those dangerous heavy white powdered dots), pumpkin pie, a caramel cream souffle and an apple tart followed on the main stage (aka kitchen counter).
On the table next to the couch? What else but organic gourmet dark and milk chocolate bars from an outfit called Vosges. And how could you not try them all?
Here we go: creole bar is New Orleans style chicory, Sao Thome Bittersweet and cocoa nibs, the Wooloomooloo Bar is roasted and salted macadamia nuts with Indonesia coconut, hemp seeds and deep milk chocolate, the Mo's Dark Bacon Bar (yes I did say Bacon, it's not a typo), is full of Applewood smoked bacon and alderwood smoked salt, the Gianduja Bar has almonds, carmelized hazelnuts and deep milk chocolate.
The Red Fire Bar which was everyone's favorite except for mine consisted of Mexican ancho y chipotle chillies and Ceylon cinnamon, whereas the Oaxaca Bar had guajillo and chillies with Tanzanaire bittersweet chocolate. Two milk chocolate options were the Barcelona Bar which included hickory smoked almonds with grey sea salt, and the Matcha Bar with Japanese matcha green tea and 45% cacao. Lastly, I tasted the Black Pearl Bar, which was 55% cacao and had ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds and dark chocolate.
I had to take a double dose of extra strength Rolaids when I got home. Who said you couldn't get a heart attack from going vegetarian?
December 26, 2010
The History Behind Boxing Day
Not everyone knows or celebrates Boxing Day, but when I lived in the UK and Australia, it was celebrated with vigor. It is observed in the UK, Australia, Austria, Canada and New Zealand. In South Africa, the December 26 public holiday is called Day of Goodwill, in Ireland St. Stephen's Day or Lá an Dreoilín, and in continental European countries the "Second Christmas Day."
And how cool is this? In Canada, Boxing Day is listed in the Canada Labor Code as an optional holiday. I hate when Christmas and Boxing Day falls on a weekend since it means that you don't really get an extra time off just to sit, stare at Christmas lights and listen to old fashioned kitch holiday songs. I love this btw.
The holiday may date from as early as the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is not known. It may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England, who gave Christmas boxes/gifts to their servants on December 26, or maybe by priests, who opened the church's alms (charity boxes), and distributed the contents to the poor and needy.
Below is a bit of history about the origins and myths of Boxing Day from Snopes.