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Newsletter: 2018 December

Wow, how did it get so late so soon?

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

- by Theodore Giesel, also known as Dr. Seuss -

If like the famous American children books author Dr. Seuss, you find yourself thinking, “How did it get so late so soon?”, you’re not alone. The year has flown past, and we’re now in the last month of 2018! Where did all the time fly to? Have you achieved all that you set out to do at the beginning of this year? How many ticks do you have on your list of ambitious resolutions that you made for the year?

December, the twelfth and final month on today’s Gregorian calendar, was the tenth month on the old Roman calendar. As with all the other months, this month’s name is also based on a Latin word: Decem (meaning, “ten”).

In December, depending which country you are in, St Nicholas Day is celebrated across Europe on different dates. Generally accepted as the precursor to the commercially popular Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas is very popular with the children in Europe. If you are a tea drinker, please think of the tea workers from tea plantations around the world this December on the 15th, the International Tea Day. While on the 21st, those residing in the Northern hemisphere will experience the Winter Solstice, i.e., the shortest day of the year.

And we shall end the month and the year with the double celebration of Christmas on the 25th, and New Year’s Eve on the 31st which heralds in the start of a new year ahead! Oh, just a tip for the Globetrotters, in case you can’t make it on the 25th for Christmas with your dear ones, you can always celebrate the Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January!

Now, let’s get on with a holiday season with our photo contest:

Where in the world was the above picture taken ?

Result of November’s photo contest:


The photo was taken in Rouen, the capital of Normandy. Made famous by Joan of Arc, the section of old town still retains the character of a cobbled-street medieval city. The Gros-Horloge in our photo contest is a 14th-century astronomical clock with one of the oldest clock mechanism in Europe.

Click the links below if you wish to find out more about Rouen:

Tourism – Normandy

The 4 Cs of Normandy Cuisine

A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

A note from Monica:

Last month’s highlight was Thanksgiving, and as I do every year in November, I gathered with a few friends to share dinner. Our Thanksgiving dinners are never elaborate – the table is usually laden with a potluck style meal, with each person bringing a dish that is special to him or her – this year I brought a dish from Singapore that was great for the nippy weather: Bak kut teh (a peppery broth with ribs).

At dinner, the chatter soon moved on to how the following day was Black Friday – a major shopping day with discounts deals galore in the US. My British friend commented that with the advent of online shopping, the Black Friday sales are now quickly catching on in the rest of the world.

And this started me thinking. Of how traditional events are quickly losing their cultural significance to the more commercial aspect of the discounts on material goods. I mentioned this to my companions, and they agreed and pointed out that in December, we have another major festival celebrated the world over which has become commercialised: Christmas.

Indeed, by many counts, Christmas has become about buying that perfect present for your loved ones. Shops outdo one another to entice us to spend our year’s hard-earned money. In the bigger cities, malls are usually decked out with Christmas decorations and yuletide music is piped in to put everyone in a cheery mood. As the month draws closer towards the end, there will be many people rushing from one shop to another, ticking names off lists and the gift wrapping queues at many stores will be a test of one’s patience. Gifts wrapped, everyone will then rush home to place their perfect present under the lit and decorated Christmas tree.

Ah, the Christmas tree! In Europe, buying a fresh Christmas tree to bring home is de rigueur. Whether you pick it up in the local supermarket, or you plan a special trip out to a Christmas tree farm in the countryside to pick out your preferred shape and size, tying the tree to the roof of your car and then carefully carting it into your living room before unravelling its branches is definitely a gleeful experience no matter how many times one does it. Once you have your tree standing upright in the pot, you can then begin the fun of decorating the tree with your family or friends.

My husband and I usually go to a few of the Christmas decoration fairs that pop up around this month to get some inspiration of how to decorate our home and tree. The Christmas decoration fairs are usually part of the Christmas market in a city, so we end up strolling around the stalls to see if we can pick up some interesting and unique gifts for our friends and family. As many of these stalls feature international sellers from all over the world, you can definitely pick up some good keepsakes! In fact, a few years ago, I started buying my mum little handmade decorations made from spices and nuts, and I must say it’s often a struggle to give them away to her.

And of course, what’s a visit to a Christmas market without watching the laughing children and adults take a spin on the ice skating rink or having a bite of something warm to eat? Depending on where in Europe you go, Christmas market food can vary from grilled sausages to tossed sliced mushrooms to little-puffed pancakes topped with icing sugar. Just be sure to dress up warm as many of the Christmas markets take place outdoors.

I am getting super excited just writing this and am already making a mental note of which Christmas markets I would like to visit this year, and which rides I will go on. I usually like to take a spin on the Ferris wheel – not as cold as you might imagine, as the gondolas come with an enclosed cabin that is not open to the elements thankfully. The best part is when the wheel stops and the gondola you’re in is right at the top, and you can see all the twinkling lights below – it is definitely a bewitching magical sight, fit for the season to end the year!

With that, I send you my warm regards (M.D.)

With that note of excitement from Monica and the inspiring story of Saint Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus), I hope we will try to extend our hands to those who need help and have our hearts go out to those who need us during this holiday season.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."

- Hamilton Wright Mabie, American author -

To learn about other Cultural snippets festivals around the world, you can also subscribe to TCG’s Youth’s Cross Cultural Competency course:

Enjoy this wonderful time of the year, may it be filled with joy, peace and much happiness wherever you are!

To get the season going, here is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (childhood memories?)…
Lang Lang – The Nutcracker Suite

Have an enchanted holiday season!