Today is our last day in the office before the Christmas break. It seems like it’s crept up on us this year but now with just two days to go, we’re starting to look forward to our various celebrations. I asked a few people how they’ll be celebrating this year.
My mother is Finnish so we (my three siblings, partners, niece and nephew) have our Christmas meal and presents on Christmas Eve at her house, which is always beautifully decorated Scandinavian style (no tinsel!). That means Christmas Day is like Boxing Day where we just chill out, watch TV and have left overs.
On Boxing Day (26th December) I will cook at my house and have some of my husband’s cousins over, who are from Albania and don’t really celebrate Christmas, but like to get together – and will hopefully like my cooking!
I go to my parents, who live up north, and because they live in the middle of nowhere, it’s a nice, quiet setting to celebrate. On Christmas Eve, I help prepare the veggies and set the table so all my Dad has to do is cook the dinner on the day! We exchange presents at midnight and on Christmas Day, we have dinner around 2pm before settling into playing some mahjong with the family.
We usually buy a Christmas tree, then we spend about two hours in squeezing the Christmas tree into the previous year’s Christmas tree stand which is usually much smaller than the current one. After realising how many things we haven’t bought for the Christmas dinner, we start to decorate the tree and then get a surprise when we see that the cheap Christmas tree lights that we bought in the market for £0.99 don’t work.
When we have enough stress, we start cooking and feel happy because we have a lot of time until our guests arrive, then suddenly someone rings the door bell. Our uninvited guests enter the flat and start consuming half of the food we planned to serve for the dinner.
I’ll be celebrating in Finland by eating too much Christmas ham, going to a Christmas concert, and listening to the Declaration of Christmas Peace. I wanted to go skiing but there’s no snow :(
I am trying to make a Trinidadian rum cake for Christmas this year… this is the first time I’m trying to make it – it’s an old family recipe. When I was younger my Gran used to send one in the post every Christmas. Preparations started in August! Step 1 is soaking lots of fruit in rum and cherry brandy for a few months…
In the Ukraine we celebrate Christmas on 7th January. Children go from house to house and when people answer the door the children throw a handful of grain then sing a song in exchange for sweets or money (sort of a combination of Halloween and carol singing).
We’d love to hear how you plan to celebrate the holiday. Have a lovely Christmas and New Year everyone. We’ll be back in 2012!
‘Footballers are a bit dumb.’ This is a general assumption that has existed for as long as I can remember. It also makes it a little easier when you think about the vast sums of money that most get paid. However, what would happen if they suddenly stopped receiving these large weekly amounts? This may sound a little bit of an irrelevant question but this is exactly what happened to many footballers on the continent earlier this year. With arguments about television rights in Spain many of the smaller clubs from La Liga (Spain’s equivalent to the English Premier League) owed players over three month in wages. It would have been a stark realisation for many of these young players that it did not matter if you earned €100,000 a week or €100, rent and mortgages still need to be paid on time, whether you are a footballer or not.
In this case a players’ strike at the start of the season garnered support and action for many of the affected footballers. It got me thinking however, what other attributes do these players have to use in the ‘real’ world? Could a job in languages be a realistic goal?
If you take the Premier League for instance, there are 72 different nations represented. Now remove Britain, Ireland, America and a couple of other Commonwealth countries; that leaves representatives from 64 separate countries without English as their first language. Considering that the vast majority are now bilingual this is already an impressive item to add to their CV, but if you look at a select few they could shine in a multilingual environment:
Thierry Henry (NY Redbulls) – 4 – English, Italian, Spanish and French
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona) – 4 – English, French, Catalan and Spanish
Zinedine Zidane (France) – 3 – English, Spanish and French.
The most I can seem to find, however, goes to our local Fulham centre back and Swiss international Philippe Senderos, who speaks six languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese), a total that many professional linguists would struggle to contend with.
In a small attempt to dispel the notions that the British are completely monolingual I would like to mention Gary Lineker (English, Japanese and Spanish), Owen Hargreaves (English and German), David James (English and Spanish) and Sol Campbell (English and French).
The variety of languages in the English League alone can lead to problems within teams and especially within management. Chelsea is a prime example where language skills have come to the forefront of the players’ regime. With a multitude of spoken languages, the first ruling of Andre Villas Boas (the current Chelsea manager) was to state that only English was to be spoken at the club, to bring a common language to the players who would otherwise separate into groups based on their mother tongue.
With Villas speaking four languages himself, it has become an integral part of his management style. New Spanish signing Juan Mata stated that understanding the instructions in English is challenging to begin with, but the squad helps out any new team mates who are struggling. With personal problems, however, Mata says that the manager would take him to one side and have any personal conversations in Spanish to allow him to fully express himself; this demonstrates the diversity an extra language can give, especially in management roles.
There is one English based Chelsea induction that the Spaniard could not escape – the tradition of Chelsea’s karaoke initiation, where a song has to be sung in English in front of the entire squad. Mata’s choice? The Macarena… It seems that although we may not be able to write off footballers as talentless off the pitch, due to the language skills that many have learned, we may be able to continue with the assumption that they have some terrible taste.