The first half of my exchange year has gone by and I have lived out new experiences. In this time I experienced Christmas “madness” and everything referring to it, and I want to tell you about some celebrations and traditions which are not that common in our country.
Bonfire Night is associated with the tradition of celebrating the failure of Guy Fawkes' action on the 5th of November. Every town organizes a huge bonfire with fireworks. In cities or Metropolises like London, there are very big marches and people wear different kinds of masks as well. It is the only day in a year when people can use fireworks.
Children in need organisation
For the majority of English people, the celebration of Christmas begins on the 14th of November. There is a TV program called Children In Need that begins at 6 p.m. that night.
Children In Need is a charity organization, which raises money for children in England that don’t have enough money to live an ordinary life.
A week before this event there are fund-raising points all over the England in shops. Many schools are involved as well. From my experience I can tell you that most of the pupils are very excited about this week. It is very interesting, because they have to go to school with a mask.
In my school, on Monday there was a Back to school Day (we wore uniforms or very smart clothes), Tuesday was Pyjama Day, Wednesday was pirates day, on Thursday we were supposed to wear something purple and Friday was Children In need day, which means that everybody wore a costume e.g. Mario, Harry Potter, or Barack Obama and his guardians...I was a doll.
On the Friday morning we had a four-legged race. For this race you needed at least one partner and you had to tie your legs together with your partner(s). It is quite easy for two people but there were groups with 4 people and I saw them running. My friend and I had problems with walking.
Christmas day (25th December)
Slovakia, like many other countries, celebrates Christmas on the 24th of December. English people celebrate Christmas on December 25th. Many families, like my host family, went
to a restaurant for Christmas dinner. They usually eat turkey, potatoes and some vegetables and there are “Christmas crackers” for each person on every table. There was one that looked like a
very big “salonka”. Inside each of the crackers there is something small like in kinder chocolate eggs (a pin, little frame, or some toy...) plus a typical English joke and a paper crown.
The tradition is with your left hand you catch the cracker from the right side and by right hand from the left side, it makes a big circle from your crossed arms. You have to pull as hard as you
can and whoever ends up with the “body” of the cracker is the owner of it. I brought the Christmas cracker tradition to my own home in Slovakia.
At school we had a Christmas dinner as well. The funniest thing was, that teachers were wearing costumes. They were dressed as elves and even the head of the Sixth form (director) was waitressing for us students.
After Christmas they have a Boxing Day, it is a day when no one is at work and everybody stays in bed the whole day.
For the New Year’s celebration many young people go to a home party or they just stay home with their parents. They don’t usually use fireworks for the celebration of New Year.
Many people told me, that January is the worst period of time for exchange students, because they feel homesick and want to quit the year. For me it was different, unfortunately my host family had some family problems so, after Christmas they couldn’t host me anymore. Therefore I had very busy days in January with being replaced from one temporary family to another. After a few weeks they found me a new family with 2 other exchange students, one is from Germany and the other one from Italy. I am now at a new school and attending new subjects, I have changed towns and now I live even closer to London. My replacement occurred a month ago, and I can tell that I wasn’t bored during this time. So advice for next exchange students, if you feel real homesick after Christmas, change your host family, it will cause so many problems, that you won’t have time for being homesick. (Of course, I am just joking, try to avoid replacements in the middle of the year, there are possibilities, that no family is free)
by Tamara Salibová
Year 1, Issue 2