Halloween Obstacles in Serbia

Planning for an English Club Halloween party is proving harder than expected. It will largely end up being just a costume party. That is enough, and most of the fun anyway, right?  Keeping it simple is key.

Let me share the challenges I am up against. The decorations are the main issue.

I found that orange pumpkins aren’t so common. They are grown for feeding pigs. There are so many other options, that is really irrelevant. It is just shocking as massive fields are dedicated to these orange pumpkins in the U.S. for fall decoration and picture-taking purposes only!

The decorative brooms we use to decorate and symbolize a witches broom, is as common as sliced bread here. Here is a bit of irony: sliced bread isn’t so common. LOL Brooms are so different here, I could do a post on them alone!  I guess that will be my blog.

Costume ideas are often culturally different… for instance. In the U.S. twice I have gone as Gypsy because no one knows they exist. To us they are like unicorns. A.k.a. mythical story book creatures. It is a little like this M&M commercial.

 

Yet, the word in Serbian for Gypsy in Serbian is like saying the “N” word in the U.S. Roma is the proper word for these people.

The irony continues… The “N” word in Serbia is common. There are almost no black people here… only in cities. And the kids here that listen to American rap here the word and don’t understand how bad it is.  Who is gonna tell them? Maybe me? in this post. 🙂

Other costume issues are that things that are common costumes are possibly cultural reference that the kids here may not recognize. DIY (do it yourself) or home-made costumes don’t seem so common. But then again, maybe I am wrong. I am kinda new at this.

The food and drinks we would use back home aren’t even sold here. I doubt anyone here knows what candy corn are! In case you don’t, they are a super sweet chewy candy.

In the words of Wayne’s world, “Party on!”

or in the more recent and very popular…

 

Do you have any experience in putting on a Halloween party? Tell me about it!

 

 

 

 

Turkish coffee~ Foreigner Follies

our red jezva with bubbling Turkish coffee

Today, while making the daily Turkish coffee, I made a mess…. again. Usually while making it, I am juggling a newly diapered munchkin, the kitchen mess left by the muz, and trying to wake up at the same time. Filter coffee is much “safer”, I must say.

When I make Turkish style coffee, I let the water boil, take it off the burner, add the coffee/stir, put it back on the burner to boil. When the coffee starts to bubble you pour it into the cup/s. Sometimes when I put it back on to boil, I turn away for more than a second. That is when the coffee volcano makes a mess all over the stove top.  😦

I got a bonus blister while cleaning up the coffee lava as the water on the cloth turned a super conductor of heat. Freakin A!!  The tip of my middle finger was the victim of my morning haze stupor. Clearly, I should really have a cup of coffee before I make myself some. That’s a catch 22 if I ever heard one.

If you have never made Turkish coffee and want to see how it is made here is a youtube video.He makes it a little differently but it works.  The guy has a nice accent ta boot! 🙂

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Things Grandmas say in Serbia~ Foreigner Funnies!

This is a reblog of a post from quite a long time ago on my Blogspot site. It still makes me laugh to think about all the Grandma’s or Baba’s talking about their grandkids in such a way. Here is the link to the old blog. I hope it makes you laugh.

This is Baba and her “little ducky”.

Babino patcheh or Grandma’s little penis

I have been going to my husbands village for 2 years now. Every time we go, Baba and Deda  greet us at the door. Deda shakes our hands. Baba pulls us in for hugs and lots of kisses that are closer to the neck than the face, so I always get a strange vampirish vibe from them, even though she barely has teeth. While she is kissing us, she is always muttering sweet nothings of love to us like we are children. It is very sweet and I feel loved.
This time, while I was there, a cousin translated one of the things she says to my husband…. Babino  malo Patcheh. Please forgive the spelling. I knew when she was saying Babino she was calling us her’s. It’s like saying Grandma’s baby or something. What I didn’t get was the second part. Patcheh is the word for baby duck and this is slang for penis. All along she has been calling my husband, “grandma’s little penis”. And, as odd as it sounds, it is a sweet thing to say. I did laugh my dupe off when I heard this!! (Dupe means butt.)
Bringing this up to date…. Fast forward 2 1/2 years.
And now that I have my own little girl, and my husband’s Mom has her own little lovey sayings for her. Babina mala riba… that is Grandma’s little fish. Even though it is completely rude to call women’s parts fish in my part of the world, it is proper and even common to hear little girls and women called fish.  Live and learn, live   and    learn!

Link to the original post:

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2011/03/babino-patcheh-or-grandmas-little-penis.html

Munchkin Tuesday Little Rock

Perfection~ an old Turkish style Serbian house. I am in LOVE!

Sunday we went to a friend’s village for a Slava. (One of those Big Thanksgiving type dinners that are related to a saint.) We went to a village I had only previously driven through before. Gore Kamenica or Upper Little Rock is the name of the town, like Little Rock, Arkansas. It reminds me of the country song, “RockyTop” and it as just as country as the song!

The food was nothing less than spectacular, Fresh from the garden veggies, Home made  cheese from the cow and the sheep’s milk! YUM! Roasted lamb and of course, Rakija!

The Munchkin didn’t allow me to eat much, soon we were off to play with the other kids and eventually took a walk.

Just down the road we ran into some other familiar children and soon out the front door comes a friend of mine. How Fun to run into friends in a town half an hour from home!

Mosquitoes and rain drops drove us back home after seeing some gorgeous fairy-tale village scenes.

Old Serbian Home

Old Serbian Home

This old house was just the tip of the iceberg. So much to great stuff to see. I could walk around these old villages for eternity. Ideally with the good camera and no Munchkin. 😉 Chasing after the Speedy toddler impairs the view. Here are a few more phone pics for the road!

Check out this chicken walk!

 

Doesn’t this look like something you would see in a movie?

End of the blurry pics.
Happy Tuesday! Dobar dan.

 

Traveling Tuesday… Walking through Paralia, Greece

It has been a month now since my Greece trip. I was thinking about it today as I thought about home and the fisherman’s harbor that was across the street from the place I use to literally dump crabs on the the tables of tourists. (They paid me to do it.)

This was the view from my “office” on a good evening back in the U.S.

No fisherman action in the evening here. but truth be told, it isn’t to far off the action I saw at dawn in Paralia at the local fisherman’s marina. Accept of course they use smaller nets than the big ships back home use and no rods to be seen. Like anyone working on a boat, there is lots of prep work for the trip out on the water.

All along the docks on this early April morning, the local fishermen and women are mending and straightening their nets. In the distance, Mt. Olympus looms.  A friendly bunch at such an early hour. They didn’t even mind when I asked to take their pictures, or more accurately lifted my camera and gave them an imploring look. It worked. A smile and a nod gave me the green light.

I could have stayed at the marina all day long, I felt at home there, even if I can’t speak a lick of Greek!. Holy hard language! Pardon the New Testament pun. 😉

One fellow sipped his coffee as he worked on his nets.

This side of Paralia or (Paralija if you are Serbian) was less touristy and filled with lots of stray dogs. restaurants closed til the start of summer lined the area. An old  amusement park and cart race sat on the out skirts of town.

This way to the cart racing facility The faded sign would keep better if it was taken down in the off season…

The mountains framed by the rides makes a great pic, but I was a bit shocked to see the rides all sitting out waiting for summer to start. The salt air is not so good for the mechanics… I would have reservations about getting any of these rides. 😦

Lots of doggies like this one were walking the streets. Some traveled in packs that were quite intimidating. One such pack escorted me for a short while as I strolled with trepidation.

The large dogs who were my short term companions.

They were all larger and could do some damage. Soon they ran off chasing a poor littler dog who was in their territory. This is a dog eat dog world for sure!

Canals intruded on the north side of town. This lazy little turtle sunned himself til I came alone and interrupted him.

More on Greece later. Happy Tuesday! Travel when you can!

Dobar Dan!

Whatever Wednesday~ Easter Feast pics

Easter in the village is so much less formal than I have known Easter to be. Mind you, there are formalities. Just different ones.

Family Sets up the “picnic” under the pavilion, Neighbors wander in. There weren’t as many people as I thought. It must be an invite only kind of thing?  I don’t know.

There is tons of food, wine, and beer waiting to be consumed. The table is lined with the closest family and friends and the ceremonial bread is broken.

Brothers

Wine is poured into the four crevices cut into the cake like bread. Probably to symbolize the four places Jesus was pierced with nails.  Now it is like a communion bread and wine all in one. Pieces of the bread are passed around to everyone. Incense is burned, candles are lit and food is eaten. Not all in that order. 🙂

Lighting the incense, saying a prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Everyone is lined up to light their candles by the Ancient cross.

The candles they will light are a soft wax. If you hold them in your hand too long they wilt like a flower and face down. Easily remedied by straightening them out.  and letting them cool a bit.

I had to get a pic of this lady with the kerchief tied behind her head. If that outfit doesn’t scream fortune teller. I don’t know what does. But this is just her choice of clothes for the day.

 

The cross is  the closest thing to a church in the village. There is a church a village or two over, and then the one in town. There are lots of these crosses all over. One might be hiking through the forest and find an old abandoned cross like this from another lifetime in Serbia. The  writing on the cross is in old Cyrillic. I can’t read it.

People eat. Children get restless. Beer, cigarettes, and conversation flank the table. Children find ways of amusing themselves.

washing their hands over and over, playing in the water.

 

Taking walks

 

Learning and playing the egg tapping game for the first time.

Happy Easter from our family to yours.

 

 

Easter Monday~ Orthodox Lunch and Colored Eggs

After the family dilemma yesterday, we did finally go for lunch and enjoyed the company of family and the fellow villagers.

Uncle Milosh with the pic that was roasted on a spit the day before Easter.

No time now to post pics of the Easter feast, but will do later this week. For now just a little post on the eggtivities. :0)

Coloring eggs is done here on Good Friday, better known as Big Friday in this part of the world. It is much the same, accept that as it is with almost everything else it takes a lot more time and effort.

Easter egg dye and other paraphernalia.

Back home we start off with white eggs food coloring and vinegar.  Dipping the eggs and coloring them takes a few seconds and you can make one egg a few colors with some careful dipping.

another vender at the market selling Easter decor.

Here they start with Brown eggs ditto on the rest. The dying time is 10 minutes to an hour! Since it is so time intensive, eggs are only one color.!? But darker because the Eggs are brown to begin with. Designs can be created with leaves, or bags. I love that part of the creativity. I certainly appreciate the work put into them!

I can just imaging how shocked my Serbian sister in the U.S. was when we dyed eggs together. The colors were the pastels I am accustomed to. She asked if we could make the colors darker. Now I know why. That is what she was used to seeing. And the difference in color is kind of a let down when you are far from home and want to do something traditional. Definitive Culture Shock! Funny how it pops up at the weirdest moments.

There are no Egg hunts here, but there are serious competitions for egg tapping. The youtube video below shows what I mean. less than a minute in is all you need to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVFWhoDIk30

I have only played this with the husband so far, My egg was the winner. He told me after, pointier eggs are best!

Decorations may be done with the new decals we find in the west, but old fashioned  decorations are my favorite here. This pic is from Wikipedia from the Czech republic… but they use this technique all over Eastern Europe.

Learning new traditions is the really good part of being an expat.

Dobar Dan y’all

 

Orthodox Easter~Complications and Culture shock

It is just after 8 Am, the church bells have been continuously ringing for several minutes. A joyful noise on this Orthodox Easter Morning. I am having coffee on the terrace with the help of a curtain hung on the clothes line to dull the sun from blinding me as I enjoy the out of doors.

Bells are still ringing, doves and pigeons are cooing, roosters crow now and again, and a dog barks in the distance. The only sound that doesn’t belong in this cacophony is the occasional bronchial coughing of some poor sod who has smoked to long and is breaking up the beauty of the morning with his hacking up of a lung.

Today we are supposed to go to the village for an Easter celebration. I am not sure if that is gonna happen. Mama and Papa have agreed to be the beneficiaries of the Easter feast. Let me explain:

Every year in our village, one family does all the cooking for the villagers. There is an ancient cross in the center of the village and everyone meets there under the pavillion.

Mama and Papa agreed to do this or it was their turn? Even though they just moved there.? Or Mama just wants to show off all her cooking as she is really good at it and wants to let everyone in on the not so secret secret. I think she gets her kicks showing off her cooking skills. I know I love eating her food too!

I don’t know. Lots is lost in translation to me, and I don’t want to always ask for all the details. It is annoying for the people who must constantly translate.

No matter what the situation. It was assumed that with all the work the hubby is doing on the farm that he would just add more on the workload by helping set up the food and all that. If we had been asked, I think that would be O.K. but as per usual in the family one or two people take on the task and expect others to work off half their arse to do what the other person agreed to do. I used to do my part but now as the munchkin demands much of my time, all I seem to accomplish is setting the table or washing the dishes if I am lucky. (Yes, I mean Lucky!. It is a break from the norm.)

For me, it seems ridiculous that one family have so much on their shoulders. But apparently the idea of a potluck dinner is lost on this country.

Either way, We are not going early to help, or we would already be there. Normally, I would say you must help your family, and it is Easter and all that, but I am fed up with all the hoopla at the moment and I would rather just focus on what today is about. As you can read, I am not doing a good job of that!

Guilt world normally be hovering over me. But, as they have another grown adult child who they expect nothing of while my husband and I do all the necessary chores, I have sent guilt packing!

Another possibly interesting element to the story…. When we first arrived, mama told me “We” should plan to have a Serbian Wedding and Christening for Millie on Easter. So then all the family will be there anyway. I was supposed to cajole Milan in to wanting to do this. Bwahaha!

I do not want ANOTHER wedding. We already had two. One Early to save $1000 buck with citizenship paper work that was going up in price by a certain date. The other later to have a real wedding and the family present.

The thought of having one here is too much. The stress of it would be overwhelming, especially with a baby to care for. Then there would also be the Christening.

Now, I am wondering if they took all this on in hopes perhaps that wedding and Christening may happen. Or more likely they just wanted to celebrate having the family present for the first time for an Easter celebration, since their son has been gone for the better part of 10 years.

Half an hour later, the church bells are still ringing intermittently. A nice reprieve from the craziness in my head as I write this. This is surely an attack of culture shock.

Easter at home is about going to Church. Listening to the account of Christs tribulation, death and the joy of resurrection.  Celebrating with a family meal.

Of course capitalism of the U.S.  plays a part. Everyone has a new dress, and store-bought baskets of goodies with colored eggs set out in the morning to surprise the children. It is like mini Christmas in spring.

Only the Dove is cooing now and my rant has ended. Baby is fussing and my day really begins. It will certainly be an interesting Easter. I will keep you posted. 😉

Christ is Risen. Halelujah!

10 hours later: we did go to the village, pics to follow tomorrow. It was a wonderful Easter. Now the munchkin naps while I type once again.

Dobar Dan

Whatever Wednesday~ OLD WIVES TALES AND BABY TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS IN SERBIA

Old wives tales and Baby Traditions and beliefs in Serbia

Reposted from my old blog Chronicles of Serbia at Blogspot with a few added comments.

While living in Serbia, I have found that many ideas are reminders of the past, the region you live in, and the fact that “old wives tales” are strongly followed world-wide.In the US we ” knock on wood” to ward off a bad thing from happening when mentioned it, or throw a pinch of salt over our left shoulder if a bit is spilled. Here are some of the traditions followed by some Serbians to keep their babies safe from the “evil eye” or the like.

All of these were told to me, by my native Serbian friends, feel free to correct anything that my be different in your region. I love to hear variations!

red string is tied around the babies wrist to ward off sickness as well as at least one item of inside out clothing, usually underwear.

Babies are kept inside for a little while because too many people looking cause them to get sick. This idea is not only for babies, but infants seem to be the most vulnerable.

I have been the victim of this kind of thought as well. I got sick after a wedding and my mother in law and her friend wanted to make sure I wasn’t under the influence of the evil eye. They thought too many people were looking at me because I was an American. They were inclined to put a hot coal straight out of the fire in a cup of water and touch  my forehead with the water. My husband put a stop to this when I started freaking out. We had a good time calling his mom a “witch doctor” for a few weeks after that.

Epidurals are thought to be dangerous, and not good for labor. I assure people I talk with that is not true. I have had two. One for a knee surgery and one for the delivery of my little girl. I could still tell when to push. Millions of babies are delivered this way. It is completely safe.

Things believed to help you have healthier babies: 
Sitting on the ground, or walking barefoot could ruin your eggs so these things should be avoided. I am guilty of both of these things, I love to walk barefoot, inside and out. and my mother in law has a fit! She loves me and want the best for us, and I love her for it. It is a nuisance sometimes though. I don’t want to wear shoes or papuche (slippers) all the time. And at the ripe old age of 40, after years of not following these rules I was blessed with a healthy baby girl.

It is also believed that babies should not be sat up before they are 6 months old. They think it can ruin the hips, but here it is encouraged. Babies all over Yugoslavia are subject to wearing hip braces for a while to keep their hips from developing problems. When I tell my Serbian friends that we always sit our babies up, from birth, many of my friends were shocked.

While our munchkin was under six months old, thank God we were in America. But friends who saw her on skype were shocked she wasn’t kept laying flat. I explained it isn’t good for a child to stay laying flat. No babies in the U.S. or most other countries follow that tradition, and they are just fine.The funniest thing I have heard was after a Slava. I was sitting in the kitchen with my two best Serbian girlfriends. We were comparing this kinds of stories. All of us burst into uncontrollable laughter when one of them told  us how a distant Baba from her husband’s side of the family had asked here what sexual position they had used to produce their new baby boy. I think I have heard that idea here in the US a long time ago. I do not believe this is a Uniquely Serbian idea, just another old wives tale.

I was startled by many of the beliefs, but enjoy learning about them. it is really fascinating. Not long ago I watched a movie call “Babies”. Watch the Trailer here. This is more of a documentary movie that follows 4 babies for one year world-wide.  The babies are from Japan, Mongolia, San Francisco, USA, and Africa. It was interesting to see what is acceptable world-wide and refreshing to see how resilient babies are. Ironically, the scariest thing I saw was in San Francisco.

I would love to hear from you on this subject. It is fascinating to me! Well pretty much all customs and beliefs world-wide are. It is the Social Scientist in me.

Munchkin Monday ~ Hana’s Christening on St. Patrick’s Day

The third of the three little musketeers had her first birthday!!

Our close-knit group of friends gathered once again to celebrate.

Hana’s Christening. The Godfather and the mother of the child stand before the priest.

Hana was not all that fond of the ceremony that took longer than most babies want to be held in front of a stranger. Especially when the stranger is singing Orthodox Christening chants. I am sure if it was the Becolino (Baby soap) Song She would have been just fine. 🙂

The priest sang/chanted, sprinkled water on her head, and cut her hair in four places. The Kum  (Serbian for best man) who is also the Godfather and Hana’s mom followed the priest, circling the altar three times.    This was a new cultural experience for me. I found it interesting. Also, The song “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof came to mind. So much of the ceremony is steeped in tradition going back centuries.

After the ceremony at the gorgeous old church, we had a short break. It was time for the little ones to nap and then met up back at the home of Hana and her family for an amazing dinner. Regretfully, I didn’t get to eat much, but what I did eat was YUM-mazing!

You may ask where the woman are.

The Munchkin and I in green for St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope Hana enjoyed her birthday. I know all the other kids enjoyed her toys. 😉 Thanks for sharing Hana!

For St. Patrick’s day, I did a little photo shoot with my little leprechaun. She was less than cooperative. This is my favorite of the pics.. It looks like she is dancing.