“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.…”
- Albert Camus, French philosopher, writer, 1913-60
Charles Dickens, the famous English writer, once said: “of all the months of the year, there is not a month one half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year.” One of the earlier Christmas gifts I received was Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” My godfather, a Lasallian Brother from Australia, gave me the book to share his thoughtful joyous giving during Christmas. Now, every year around this time, I will recall the excitement I felt when I discovered my gift was an English book because I was just about to transfer to an English-speaking school the following year. On top of it, it helps me reflect on the valuable lessons the story tells; it is indeed a meaningful gift he chose for me.
The story of Santa Claus traces back to the kind-hearted bishop, Saint Nicholas of Myra. His feast day, the 6th of December, sees many continuing the tradition of gift-giving in Continental European Christian families. Dickens’ Scrooge has also become a household name for those who go to the movies or watch Disney television channels during Christmas.
Besides Christmas and New Year’s eve, December is the season for celebrations, notably Hanukkah (18th-26th) for the Jewish faith, Winter Solstice for the west or Dongzhi (冬至) for the east on the 22nd, Kwanzaa (26th-1st) for African-American, etc. Several countries are also celebrating their National holidays during December, including Oman, Romania (1st), Lao, UAE (2nd), Finland (6th), Malta (13th), Bhutan (16th), Qatar (18th) and Mongolia (29th), etc.
It is a month filled with many happenings. I wonder if you are one of those who would stay up until midnight to see the new year start. If so, it is time for the famous: “Auld Lang Syne” again as we count down and wrap up the year!
December is the month to celebrate the Present!
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
“Learning never exhausts the mind!” claimed the polymath genius Leonardo Da Vinci. Here are the five globetrotting Cultural fun-facts questions for you this December:
Q1. Who invented ice skates? According to a study by the Universities of Oxford and Milan, ice skates were invented in Finland around 5,000 years ago to save energy in harsh winter conditions when hunting in the frozen Lakeland. They first used animal bones for the blades before switching them to metal blades. (source: Wikipedia.)
Q2. Which European city was the first to have electric street lighting?
Timisoara, now part of west Romania, was the first city in Europe to have electric streetlights in 1884.
Q3. What does “Oaia aia e a ei, eu i-o iau.” mean ? This Romanian sentence made only of vowels means “That sheep is hers, I am taking it.” To hear how the phrase sounds: watch this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Q4. Who invented Mobile Text messaging? Matti Makkonen, a Finnish engineer, developed the idea of sending messages via mobile networks while enjoying a pizza at a telecom conference in Copenhagen in 1984. He never patented his invention and has always claimed it to be a joint effort between his colleagues and himself. Nokia created the first mobile phone that enabled the easy writing of messages in 1994, leading to popular SMS.
Q5. Which song was the first broadcast from space? On 16th Dec 1965, the astronauts aboard Gemini 6 decided to play a prank on Mission Control and performed the song ‘Jingle Bells’ on a harmonica and actual jingle bells they had smuggled on board. Here is the recording if you want to hear it again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Well, we hope you have enjoyed this month’s Q&As. If you are curious and want to learn more (e.g. what do people do on “National Jealousy Day” in Finland? tip: your taxes, etc.), you can click the Youtube links below (Youtube clips credit: Office holidays).
Fun facts about Finland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Fun facts about Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
As we gather to celebrate this festive season, we aim to have fun, friendly, enjoyable conversations to warm our hearts! So keep your good humour with these facts.
“Wishing you a blessed and memorable December 2022!
Peace, good health and much happiness!”
The world is fascinating simply because differences exist!
Join us to spread the words, share the vision, and do our parts.
At TransCultural Group (TCG), we are determined to play our part in making the world a better place. We have launched an e-book for Youth. We have also uploaded the complete series of “Food around the World” on our YouTube channel.
Please share it If you love our effort, and please give us a “like” and subscribe to our “YouTube” channel (it is free!) Come support us!
Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries