Teaching English Language traditional Holidays! St. Patrick’s Day Edition

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to ya! I am wearing green in honor of the day. Back home it is a custom and if you are caught without something green you are likely to get pinched!  I plan to eat some cabbage for dinner which is also a tradition. I may also have a swig of beer with the cabbage. We will see. 

Kiss Me, I’m Irish is a common phrase associated with St. Patrick’s Day. It often appears on T-shirts. It originates from the legend of the Blarney Stone, which is believed to bring luck and eloquence to those who kiss it. I have heard this isn’t a great idea as some Irish who are annoyed by tourists pee on the stone… Maybe it is more yucky thank lucky. 😉 

Today, I asked a student what he thought when he saw the Kiss Me I’m Irish shirt. He told me, “Maybe Irish people like kissing?” We laughed. I told him about the Blarney Stone. I also told him that in Serbia we kiss people when we meet three times on the cheeks. He said that is TOO MUCH. LOL  We laughed again. Sharing cultural traditions and holidays are so much fun! I love sharing mine and learning about others. This is the good stuff!

The Irish are known for their blessings. Here is a lovely Irish blessing for the close of my St. Patrick’s day post. May good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. May your days be many and your troubles be few, May all God’s blessings descend upon you, May peace be within you, May your heart be strong, May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

Happy St. Paddy’s day y’all!

Below is an Engoo lesson on St. Patrick’s day if you are interested. 

https://engoo.com/app/lessons/green-expressions-for-st-patricks-day/rQVs5EREEeqhi4tsW53Hdw

The Ginger Bread House

For Christmas Eve I opened a sweet sacred box containing the walls, foundation, roofing, and decorations. I dug out my piping bag and mixed up the icing/glue that would hold it all together. The plan was to decorate and create some Christmas spiced memories.

The munchkin and I worked to build the house, holding each piece in place till the glue held tight. We worked to decorate each side and enjoyed a Christmas movie in the background.

Does anyone else feel like Hansel and Grettle eating the witch’s house when they break off a piece to eat?

Looking back I realized I could have done a much better job. I should have decorated some parts before constructing the sweet little home. I could have used less icing to make it. I learned that a bit of strategy and more rest would have made it more beautiful.

But most of all I learned that moving forward prepared me for a better plan next time. That the experience and memories made were enough. We had a great time. I hope we can do it again.

Beyond those great Christmas family memories, upon reflection, the gingerbread house taught me that with enough rest and strategic planning, and actually putting in the work, we can achieve a lot more than we think we can.

Lately, I have been working too much. Working too much makes us surprisingly less productive. If I stopped, planned, and thought about what I wanted more and found a way to those goals, I could do so much more.

So, here is to resting, planning, assessing, and, creating to achieve the goals I want to achieve.

I encourage you to rest, assess, and find out what you want to achieve, then make plans. Goals are just dreams without a plan.

Happy New Year to all.

You don’t know until you KNOW

Homemade wool socks form the neighbor’s sheep. Home-made canned cherries.

This applies to so much in life. I have found the things I believed as a child and even as an adult were not as they seemed time and time again. These misconceptions are multiplied when you live internationally. Some concepts are placed within language, culture, and tradition. We don’t question them. They just ARE.

There are so many unwritten rules that we learn almost from conception. But they are just perceptions. One way of seeing or doing things. Yet, they are presented as an unwavering truth.

I remember, my brother-in-law having an oil stain on his shirt. I had been told my whole life that if an oil stain is dried in a dryer, there is no hope of removal. The stain is set. He had not grown up with a dryer and never heard this. He worked on the stain and removed it. I still don’t know how! I was astonished. But this was just one of the revelations to come in the coming years as one straddling countries, beliefs, and traditions. It is truly eye-opening!

The need for slippers.

My grandmother used to say, “You will catch your death of cold.” I never found this to be more true than in a Serbian village house in the winter. The homes here are made of cement. The walls are thick. If they have been left to chill in the winter, they are a veritable ICEBOX!

Enter the fear of being barefoot and the need for slippers ANY TIME OF YEAR!

In my home country of the U.S. slippers are optional. Often, the homes are warm and well insulated. On our first few extended trips to Serbia, we lived in an apartment. The heating was more than adequate. We were on the third floor. The heat rises and the floors were not even slightly cool. Then, on our fourth and longest trip to Serbia, we moved to a village house. This was a perfect place of freedom during COVID quarantine, but I learned the need for slippers is real. The cold comes up through the ground. The ice monster wraps itself around your feet swallowing you like an anaconda. You are chilled to the bone. Regaining your vital warmth is essential. Slippers are the barrier that may protect you from this deathly chill. Slippers are necessary if you are in this style of home. I now KNOW the necessity of slippers. Though, I still love bare feet in the summer or when the home doesn’t threaten my soul with a lasting chill.

When we first arrived, I noticed immediately that slippers were a huge deal. When entering a home, you remove your shoes and are given slippers to wear. I like being barefoot and declined to the shock of some of the hosts.

I am sure they have all experienced the bone-chilling cold I told you about. There are many old wives’ tales associated with that. (We won’t venture down that rabbit trail at this time.) Thus the deep-seated fears associated with bare feet.

Maybe there is something more I don’t know. on being barefoot in this area. But I do KNOW being barefoot where I come from is normal, healthy, and it just feels good in the grass, sand, and on a nice carpet. Where ever! I love being barefoot whenever possible. Cue the Shakira song, Wherever whenever!

In many European countries, air conditioning is seen as unhealthy and dangerous! There are lots of rumors of how it has caused illness or even killed someone. I have heard these protests first hand from Europeans fresh off the boat, but just like I had no idea of how frigid the cement block homes of Serbia could become, the newcomers to the U.S. do not know the dangers of the heat in our homes. Some poorly insulated old homes become ovens cooking the residence. Without air conditioning, people do die. The deaths are added to the statistics and are reported on the news. 

When heat waves hit, large air-conditioned buildings are available in every community for those without essential AC’s. The elderly are usually the most in need of rescue. They are the ones who succumb to the high temperatures.

That same brother-in-law I spoke of earlier used to tell me how dangerous air conditioning was. He now lives in Miami. I am sure his opinion of central air has changed immeasurably with life experience in one of the hottest cities in the U.S.

What you “know” may be subject to change. What your friends or acquaintances “know” is the same. Be careful of your judgments, be kind and forgiving of yourself and others. Also, be kind and forgiving of me as I post my perceptions of Serbia. I am aware they may be wrong. My perceptions may change. Many already have.

You really don’t know, until you know.

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