Category Archives: Culture

Celebrating the first day of school with a Schultüte.

As a German English family we have celebrated our children’s first day at school in a typical German fashion as did their Oma and Opa with daddy, with a Schultüte. It is given to children to make this first day of school a little bit sweeter.

In Germany the first day at big school is celebrated with a Schultüte. A large cone is filled with gifts and sweets to celebrate this momentous occasion. Last week, in Germany I had a look in the shops for Schultüten. They come in so many shapes and sizes, ranging from as tall as the child to about 40cm. There were Star Wars and Cars for boys and Princesses, Unicorns and butterflies for girls. The cones alone were 25 Euros before even starting to buy contents.

I asked my mum in law what she put in my Hubby’s Schultüte, 37 years ago. She answered “Sweets, crayons, pens and other things he would use at school”. This is what I had put in the Schultüte for my children too.

This is a special tradition in our family and a lovely way of marking this special day. When I found out Kiddicone were producing cones that could be used in the same way I was very excited. Sourcing cones and contents from Germany is not easy. I wish it had been around when my children were at school starting age.

The cones can be bought individually or ready filled with school supplies and sweets.

We have a special offer from Kiddicone for you Kiddicones are a brilliant way to celebrate your child’s first day at school. We can offer Lingotastic readers an exclusive discount of 10% quoting code LINGOKID.

Free Delivery” to the U.K. only (an additional charge of £4.99 applies for deliveries to the Republic of Ireland).

A very German Easter

As a German-English family we like to include traditions from both cultures in our Easter celebrations so we celebrate both a German Easter and English Easter.

The first Easter I spent in Germany, I was astounded by all the beautiful Basteln (crafts) and Osterschmuck (Easter decorations). Walking around the neighbourhood, I saw many Osterbäume (Easter trees) festooned with Ostereier (Easter eggs). Many of the houses also had beautiful Fensterbilder (homemade window decorations).

I love crafts and decorating so I brought home many materials, magazines and templates to make our own Easter crafts.

In the week leading up to Easter we go up into the loft to bring down our decorations, which grow in number each year. Last year we were in Germany for Easter, so we brought home some beautiful decorations. My favourite is the Osterkranz (Easter wreath): I love the pastel colours and it is something not often seen in the UK. It was also an absolute Schnäppchen (bargain)!

 

We love to decorate a branch with brightly coloured eggs. We decorated our own plastic ones with pens the first few years. We’ve bought more plastic ones to add to our collection in following years. As we decorated it this year, my older daughter started to talk about the Osterbaum. I was surprised she still remembered the word.pic

In our home we know it is almost Easter as Oma’s Osterpaket arrives from Germany. It is brimming with lots of yummy German food and chocolate, ready for Easter.

Pic

Before Easter my girls often make Easter bonnets to wear to school.

On Karfreitag (Good Friday) we go to church as a family to think about Jesus’ death on the cross, and what that means to us personally.

My husband has described Karsamstag in Germany to us, with the lighting of the Paschal candle to mark the period from Easter to Pentecost. Many churches also have an Osterfeuer, which dates back to pagan times: a time for the young people of the church to have fun together.

On Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) our children get up to find their baskets filled with Chocolate (Osterhasen) Easter Bunnies (must be Milka) and lots of delicious things zum Naschen. We also buy them an English Easter egg in a box. Maik, my husband, always had a few small gifts for Easter so we’ve continued this tradition with our own children – usually a book, stationery, or something they have asked for in the run up to Easter.

We all head to church together to celebrate Easter with our church family. It is a very special service with music, dance, and readings where the whole family is involved.

At some point in the weekend we have an Easter egg hunt in the garden.
As spend time playing games together.

As Monday is a Bank holiday in the UK, we take time to have a roast dinner together and head out for a walk in the afternoon.

Some years at Easter, we have visited my family in the Yorkshire Dales. My parents have friends who are sheep farmers, so we have been lucky enough to watch a lambing and help bottle feed the orphan lambs.

To me, Easter is a time of hope, of celebrating that the dark days of winter are over and the days are getting lighter and longer.

As we have two cultures and languages in our family, I think we are so much richer for embracing them both.

How does your family celebrate Easter?

Our German English Christmas decorations

As a German and English family we celebrate both English and German traditions at Christmas. Our decorations are also a mish mash of English and German.

You may have noticed from the photo we don’t have a Tannenbaum but an artificial tree. On our tree we have Strohsterne straw stars, we bought these from Tchibo in the UK. (I don’t think there are any more Tchibo shops in the UK now). This year we’ve decided to use the typically German blue pointy tree topper /Christbaum Spitze. We also have some Engeln/ angels made from folded German hymnbook pages and a bead. The hand-knitted decorations are made by my English Grandma. The pretty cross stitched decorations were a gift on my daughter’s birthday. The lights were from Aldi in the UK.

The wooden Weinachtspyramide/ Christmas pyramid and Weihnachtsmann/ Santa are from the Weinachtsmarkt/ Christmas market in Osnabrück. The Weihnachtspyramide works with candles. As the candles are lit the warm air rises and causes the figures to turn. On the bottom layer is Mary, Joseph and baby with the wise men circling around them. The second layer is the Shepherds and sheep. the top layer are the angels blowing their trumpets. it’s a really lovely way to think about the Christmas story together. The Weihnachtsmann smokes, from his mouth if you light a scented cone inside him and gives a Christmassy smell to the whole room.

It is the first time we’ve had these decorations out in many years. I think our youngest is safe around candles now so we can have them out.

What are your Christmas decorations like?

Around the world on a Black Horse

This week was my birthday. If you follow our blog you’ll know we love to experience other languages and cultures whenever we can. We found out a local pub The Black Horse was holding a polish meal, it was on my birthday so the perfect excuse for a night out with my hubby. So the babysitter was booked, and we headed out in our glad rags.

German and Polish food are very similar,  so we were excited about what we’d have to eat and we were not disappointed!

It was the first “Around the world on a Black Horse.” A chance to celebrate the different cultures around the UK, I love the idea! We have such a rich cultural and food heritage in this country and the more we can understand each others culture the better we can get on together.

This was the starter.

starter

What you cannot see in the picture was lots of warm, fresh sourdough toasted Chleb. Delicious. The pickled mushrooms were new to me as was the smoked cheese. The platter was in interesting mix of smoked,salty, sour and sweet and the vegetable salad really balanced the other flavours. There was also lots of Vodka on offer as with any Polish celebration!

 

The main dish was two pork schnitzel, mashed potato and picked red cabbage and carrots.

schnizel

 

 

The meat on both our plates was as much as I’d usually use for a family of five, obviously lots of meat on the menu in Poland.

There was some traditional Polish music being played, it sounded good but I didn’t understand a word!

 

pudding

 

The desert was delicious, as you can see mine had a birthday candle in it :0. It was a sort of pastry croisont with chocolate sauce inside served with raspberries and cream.

 

When the guitarist heard it was my birthday I was treated to my first ever hearing of Sto lat the Polish birthday song wishing a hundred years of life.

You tube

It was a brilliant evening with lots of delicious food and a chance to experience some polish culture. The next around the world on a black horse event is an Indian evening and I’m really looking forward to it! Book in with The Black Horse .

 

 

The worlds most stolen painting and flemish family frolics

Having seen a BBC programme about Renaissance art  in Europe, we simply had to stop off in Ghent on our yearly trip to Oma’s home in Germany. So this post is about the worlds most stolen painting and Flemish family frolics It is a very long drive from the UK, so a stop-off on the way is very welcome. familysmall

As a family of five it is often tricky to find a room for us. We found a brilliant room at the Hotel Onderbergen as it had a six bed room. The bedroom was really modern, with a double bed and two roomy bunk beds. We chose the bed and breakfast option for our one night stay. There was lots of local food on offer as well as a full Irish breakfast. It was really easy to find the hotel when we finally arrived in Ghent it and has secure on site parking which was perfect for us. The location was brilliant. It was only a two minute walk from the old town centre.

During our overnight stay in Ghent we visited the three main churches: Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas Church and Saint Michaels Church all with amazing architecture and decoration.

The main reason for our visit was to see the world’s most stolen piece of artwork. It is now protected by bulletproof glass and in a secure room: the altar piece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck  It is named the 1045_pp_ghent_overallAdoration of the Mystic Lamb, and better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432. It  is an amazing work of art which illustrates Christian teaching for both the literate and illiterate. It shows people from all nations and backgrounds coming together to worship the lamb who was slain. It was awe-inspiring, simply by its size. The amount of detail was phenomenal. The longer you looked at it, the more there was to see. It kept the attention of my seven and nine year olds for ten minutes, which says a lot. We talked together about what we could see and bought a sticker book of the painting for the children do on the journey home.

In the other churches we looked at very ornate silver and gold chalices and articles used during communion. There was also a beautiful display of very ornate vestments made by very skilled craftsmen and women. The churches in Ghent were a display of the best work by those who were the most skilled of their time in many different fields.

We could not visit Ghent without trying the food and the language. As you need to speak to order food, these go well together. I was so pleased my Flemish is now good enough to order a coffee or two!
“Twee koffie alstublieft”

Although understanding how much money I owe them is still a challenge.

We attempted to order a children’s meal, which resulted in a LOT of hilarity! fritjes

„Een kiddie alstublieft.“

Other useful words

alstublieft            please (polite)

dank u   thank you

waar zijn de toiletten, alstublieft?             where are the toilets, please?

spreekt u Engels?             do you speak English?

ik spreek een heel klein beetje Nederlands          I only speak very little Dutch

For more basic dutch phrases check out https://www.speaklanguages.com/dutch/phrases/basic-phrases

We really enjoyed our short trip to Ghent. Have you visited Ghent? Did we miss any must-see places?

Nie wieder Deutschland Never again Germany

As we were spending time in Osnabrück, Germany I noticed some stencilled signs on walls. Graffiti but it had a really poignant message. Nie wieder Deutschland, Never again Germany.

nie-wieder

 

As a German and English family we find the whole discussion about the second world war tricky.

We wrote about it last year.  I really like how the the Germans remember the war. Keep discussing it so we don’t forget and neither do our children.

Walking down the street a few years ago I noticed some brass cobbles with writing on. On closer inspection I noticed what they said.

 

 

It was sobering to realise that real people, living normal lives had lived in this street and had been forcibly removed and murdered simply for being Jewish.

 

Some of the recent discussion about Brexit and the outright racism that seems to be now acceptable makes talking about the second world war and other genocide more and more important. A person’s religion or race should not determine their lives. Until we live in a very different society, I will tell my children what happened so together we can say “Nie wieder, Never again”

Learning from the Romans


We spent a few days up North around Easter. As a polyglot family we could not stop language learning! We’ve visited a brilliant Roman settlement near our home in St Albans. There we learned much of the glassware found there was produced in Cologne (nearish where my mum in law lives in Germany) We took the children to see to Roman remains there last year
Cologne sightseeing guide
The most impressive part was the Praetorium discovered under the Rathaus in Cologne.

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Also near my mum in Law’s in Germany is the Varusschlacht museum. Near the site of another great wall and the site of a massive battle between the Romans and Germanic tribes Vindolanda
My son had learned some Latin at primary school with minimus This book follows a real Roman family who lived at Vindolanda (They identified them from their well preserved letters on the Vindolanda tablets) and a mouse called Minimus in the guide. My hubby has been using this book to bring back his school Latin so from the book all our Children had learned to introduce themselves in Latin. Quad nomen tibi est? Nomen mihi est Sarah. Last year they excavated a Roman Granary I’m sure that’s where Minimus loved to be. Our children had a lot of fun exploring the site and imagining what it would be like to live there in Roman times. The girls were really inspired to see the volunteers excavating as we were there. They were keen to find out how old they have to be to join in!
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I was so excited to see the real Vindolanda tablets and the actual shoes belonging to Lepidina the Prefects wife. It was amazing to see all the Roman remains found in such good condition for their age.
We visited a real section of Hadrian’s wall at Birdoswald on the way back.

As I said we bought tickets for the Roman Army museum as well. I was very different to Vindolanda. The children enjoyed just how interactive it all was, bringing the to life the Romans who were stationed here. We had chance to practice our Latin in the school room together. Picture. My favourite parts were the found Roman jewels and the film of the area from the air revealing yet another Roman fort.

Your family go learning from the Romans too. There are lots of Roman remains all over Europe. A great opportunity to let kids experience history for themselves and do a bit of language learning. Let us know where you choose to go!

Song translating fun.

Savez-vous-planter-les-chouxThe songs we use in our classes are a mix of those familiar English nursery rhymes and songs like Incy Wincy spider and traditional songs in the target language to help the families appreciate that culture. We have a few French songs I’d love to use but we’ve not yet got English translations that can be sung to the same tune to help introduce the song. We’re also starting working on our French CD so it all becomes a bit more urgent!

We were sat round the table having Sunday tea and I asked my family for ideas. This is how it went…

The first song was Mernier tu dors

Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop vite. (roll arms)
Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop fort
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms faster)
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms backwards)
Va trop fort.
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop fort.

My eight year old started and after five minutes we had this translation which can be sung and keeps the feel of the song.

Miller, wake up
The wind it is blowing
Miller, wake up.
The wind it is strong.

Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill, your windmill,
is too strong.
Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill your windmill,
is too strong.

It you don’t know the song here is a live version we recorded last year.

This second song, I’ve wanted to use for ages. It has a fun tune, is silly and is a great way to learn body parts. It must be fairly old as my mum learned it at school!

Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode, à la mode
Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le genou
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le genou
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le nez
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le nez
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le coude
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le coude
À la mode de chez nous

The google translate of this is hilarious !

“Do you plant cabbage
Fashionable, trendy
Do you plant cabbage
The way we do it at home”

After a few minutes we came up with.

Cabbage planting is such fun
Like we do it, like we do it.
Cabbage planting is such fun,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our nose,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our nose
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our elbow,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our elbow
Like we do it, come along.

Next term’s French class we’ll be reading “la petit poule rousse” The little red hen. We’ll finally we using this song.

I need to find a cabbage prop! Any ideas where?

Do you use songs in your language learning? Do you have fun translating them. Let me know in the comments below.

Chinese New Year in Chesham

This weekend we had an amazing Chinatown in Chesham event celbrating Chinese New Year. It was a lot of fun as you should see from the videos.
It was a damp start and there were only a dozen people around to start with, the dance was due to start at 12 and by 11:58 there were lots of familes who braved the weather to join the fun.

The start of the dance.

Walking up the High Street

As you can see it was a really vibrant event.

At 1 pm we hosted a Mandarin New Year Class in Chesham Library which was amazing. We had a mix of total beginners to Mandarin to native speaking families. It was such a blessing to share insights of how different countries celebrate the Lunar New Year. It was so interesting to hear the differences between how Singapore and Hong Kong celebrate. The families were all really keen to join in and have a go at speaking and singing in Mandarin.

We had a few really interesting conversations about family language learning which was why we hosted the event in the first place. One lucky family went away having won their own copy of A Little Mandarin Cd in our free raffle. I’m sure they’ll love singing along at home.

Chinese Children's Classics

Chinese Children’s Classics

A Polyglot Christmas

As a polyglot family we think it is really important for our children to experience other cultures. To understand and empathise with other cultures is just as important as speaking the language. Winter is a dark time and midwinter festivals are there to bring light and celebration.
This week’s blog is about the midwinter festivals we celebrated as a family, our polyglot Christmas.
As a German and English family we celebrated St Nikolaus Day on 6th December. Here is a video of us finding our boots the next day.

 

We’ve done this since our children were young. It’s just what we do as family at that time of year. My middle daughter often gets embarrassed about being different, but she was really pleased to discover a few of her Polish friends celebrated St Nikolaus day, too.
Our local church held a St Lucia celebration. I was so keen to see it for myself, having heard a few others talk about it. Here is the video of the event.


After this brilliant celebration we shared some typical Swedish food together and we had the chance to talk to some children who are bilingual Swedish and English. They love that they can have lives in both countries. One girl talked with glee about the summer house her family have in Northern Sweden.

 

As a family we also light the lights of Hanukkah, remembering how God provided for his people when their temple was destroyed. Eight nights of remembering God’s goodness and the chance to learn a bit of Hebrew together.
We celebrated Christmas in the UK with my parents with English Christmas carols and mostly English traditions, though they did pick us up a few times for answering them in German. Have you had a polyglot Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.
ChristmasPicture
I hope you and your family have had a lovely Christmas. It just remains for our family to wish you and your family a very happy and blessed new year.

Sarah, Maik and family.

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