Last week I shared an interesting map to show immigration patterns in Europe. This week, here’s another interesting diagram – this one shows the world’s largest languages. What do you think? Any surprises?
As a language teacher, I find these maps fascinating. Speaking another language opens doors to so many different cultures, and I’ve always loved travelling and visiting different countries and experiencing different ways of life.
Although the time when I could have happily emigrated has long gone, I can think of so many reasons why other people might choose to settle in a country other than where they were born: love, work, different opportunities….
Believe it or not, in Mexico there is a festival dedicated to radishes!
Known as the Noche de los Rábanos, the festival takes place on the 23rd of December in Oaxaca City. It begins at sunset and lasts for just a few hours, during which time visitors can wander through the streets admiring ornately carved radishes.
Nobody knows why this festival came into being, but it dates back to 1897 and was the idea of the mayor at that time. One suggestion is that it is reminiscent of when the Spanish brought radishes to Mexico in 16th century. Two local monks encouraged the locals to cultivate and sell them. To entice people to their market stalls, the sellers carved some of the radishes into interesting shapes.
Contestants of the modern day festival have to register months in advance to be able to take part. Although they can plan their designs well in advance, they have to be carved on the day itself because the radishes start to wilt after just a few hours.
Usually the carvings are of nativity scenes, but they don’t have to be and it’s not unusual to see dancers, animals and kings amongst other things.
The radishes used can weigh up to 3 Kilograms and are about 50 centimetres in length. Nowadays they are grown especially for this event.
Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost to give him the English version of his name, is the Eastern European version of Santa. He lives in the north east of Russia in a town called Veliky Ustyog and he delivers the presents to the children in Russia and some parts of Poland. He travels by troika pulled by three strong horses.
He hasn’t always been the good guy though. He used to be a winter demon, and people had to leave him presents of food and drink in return for him not freezing their crops. At some point he became more benign and is now the bringer, rather than the receiver, of gifts.
I found this recently which looks really useful for teaching some of the cultural aspects of MFL. Children always enjoy learning about what school is like in other countries.