Como se celebra la navidad en Argentina – Jim Slemeck

En Argentina la gente se celebra la navidad de forma diferente a como lo hacemos en Inglaterra. Aunque no hace frío en esta época del año en Argentina, la tradición dicta que la Navidad debe pasarse en familia, alrededor de un árbol de Navidad adornado y comiendo de todos juntos una gran cena. Los platos típicos para la cena navideña suele ser el pavo y el cerdo, que va acompañado de una buena copa de vino y un poco de pan tostado o dulces. En la mayoría de las mesas navideñas encontraremos el famoso Vitel Toné y la tradicional ensaladilla de huevos, con trozos de patatas y mayonesa. Además, es posible que encontremos los tomates rellenos con ensalada de atún y muchos postres como helados, flanes, tartas y turrones. Al final de la cena es costumbre continuar con una degustación de panes dulces, confituras y copas de champagne. Durante la Nochebuena la gente se congrega en las iglesias para celebrar la misa de medianoche después de la comida. La víspera del 25 de diciembre es una oportunidad para apreciar el valor de la familia y compartir con los seres amados el plan que hay en la mesa.

Debido a la fuerte presencia católica en Argentina, no dan tantos regalos como nosotros. Deciden celebrar con su familia en su lugar. Sin embargo, llegada la medianoche y después de la cena con la familia, el clima se torna festivo y se produce una verdadera exhibición de fuegos artificiales. También es importante mencionar la decoración de los hogares argentinos, que suelen explotar al máximo los colores rojo y blanco para ambientar sus recintos. Debido a la gran influencia europea en Argentina es normal ver en las casas las típicas decoraciones navideñas que vemos aquí en Inglaterra. Al igual que varias culturas. Papá Noel se convierte en un personaje comercial y de enorme inspiración para los más pequeños de la casa. Los regalos se abren esa misma noche, como lo hacen también aquí en Inglaterra y después los adultos se toman unas copas de sidra y los más jóvenes, salen a bailar mientras que los más mayores lo hacen en casa.

Thanksgiving Day in Japan (Kaede Sugano)

Origin and Traditions of Thanksgiving Day | Hotel Playa Mazatlan

When it comes to “Thanksgiving day”, what do you remind of? Most of you may imagine a table full of dishes, turkey, parades… etc. Those are classic ways of celebrating thanksgiving day in the US, which unfortunately suggested to be cancelled this year. Due to the global spread of COVID-19, most of the gatherings are cancelled in the US. Health experts worry that increased travel and mingling over Thanksgiving and into the December holidays could exacerbate an already dangerous situation as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising across.

However, do you know there is a similar customs in Japan? November 23rd is “Kinloh Kansha No Hi” (勤労感謝の日)in Japan, which is a national holiday to honor work and everything that has been accomplished by people’s hard working. Japanese thanksgiving day does not really involves festive stuff, rather they celebrates in the family.

In Japan, Thanksgiving day has originated from the “Nii-name Festival”(新嘗祭)which was a ceremony that honored the grain-rich food that had been around before 1945. It is similar to the American Thanksgiving, which comes from Pilgrims celebrating a good harvest.

On that day, kids often give handmade gifts to their mom and dad who are always working hard. They often make message cards with thank-you words or handmade mugs and so on. In addition, some companies may also give presents like gift certificates or items to express gratitude to the employees who are always working for the company.

It is an event so old that it is recorded in “Koji-ki” (Record of Ancient Matters), and it is a ceremony to “offer the new grains harvested in autumn to the gods to thank them for their rich blessings”. The word “new grain” is said to refer mainly to “new rice”, which means rice the first rice crop of the year. Thanks to God’s grace, Japanese enjoy the delicious new rice with gratitude.

New rice is rich in the natural sweetness and aroma of rice. Enjoying the natural flavor of the rice in its pure white form is a luxury, but if you add more flavor to it with broth and other ingredients in “takikomi gohan”(炊き込みご飯), the feeling of feast is inevitable! So, with the concept of enjoying a new rice with a new mood, we have picked up some popular “takikomi gohan” recipes with some novel ingredients.


450g Japanese short grain rice
150g Takenoko bamboo shoots
150g Renkon lotus root
100g Gobo burdock
4 Shiitake mushrooms
1 Carrot
1 Sachet dashi stock powder
600ml Water
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Sake
2 tbsp Mirin


  1. Start by rinsing the rice in running water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
  2. Next, peel and slice the burdock root into thin slices. Soak the burdock root in water for 5 minutes along with the shiitake mushrooms. Remove and discard the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and slice the remaining part of the mushrooms, takenoko bamboo shoots, renkon lotus root, and carrots into small pieces.
  3. Add the sachet of dashi stock powder to 600ml water. Stir and bring to the boil. Add the shiitake mushrooms, burdock root, bamboo shoots, lotus root, and carrots and cook for 5 mins. Drain the vegetables and reserve the stock.
  4. Add the rice to your rice cooker or pan, then place the vegetables on top of the rice. Mix the dashi stock you drained and add some more water to make a total of 600ml. Pour the stock over the rice. Set the timer on your rice cooker to cook normally or follow our recipe for cooking Japanese rice if cooking in a saucepan. Once the rice is cooked, mix the vegetables and rice together well and serve.

Christmas in Hungary (ACL)

In Hungary, it is customary to eat a traditional dish called bejgli at Christmas time. This speciality, which is the essence of Christmas in Hungary, is made of yeast-raised dough is stretched thin and filled with either poppyseed or ground walnut filling, and rolled into cylinder shapes.

Budapest’s Christmas markets – particularly the most famous at Vörösmarty tér – have become part of the winter-time experience in the city. With vendors selling hot roasted chestnuts and the scent of mulled wine (forralt bor) wafting through the street, it makes this season one of the best times of the year to visit.

The Christmas season begins in Hungary with Mikulás-nap (St. Nicholas Day) on December 6th when children polish their shoes and set them on window sills in the hope that Miklós will fill them with small goodies during the night. For those who have misbehaved during the year, Mikulás’ helper, krampusz – a scary character who looks like a cross between a demon, a monster, and an elf – will instead leave switches.

In Hungary, Santa Claus does not arrive during the night of December 24th. Rather, Jézuska (baby Jesus) and his helpers (the angels) come on the evening of the 24th. Jézuska drops off presents for good children and also brings and decorates the Christmas tree, with help from the parents. When the tree is fully decorated, sparklers are lit and the traditional Christmas tune to sing together is Mennyböl az angyal.

No Hungarian Christmas tree is complete without a generous selection of szaloncukor, pieces of fondant or chocolate filled with marzipan or other ingredients and wrapped in colourful foil wrappers.

As it is customary to abstain from meat on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve dinner revolves around fish. While every family has its own traditions and favourites, the meal most often starts with halászlé (fisherman’s soup), followed by whole roasted fish or breaded carp and potato salad. A Christmas day dinner is often stuffed cabbage with sour cream, but it could be anything from roast duck to turkey. Dessert could be mákos guba (bread pudding flavoured with honey and poppy seeds). Whatever the meal, there should be plenty of sparkling wine for toasting and celebrating.

(Adapted from an article by Carolyn Bánfalvi, founder of Taste Hungary and food and travel writer who has authored two culinary guidebooks to Hungary)

‘Nu Det Jul’ – Now It’s Christmas, Mika & Tobias (ACL)

Mika Schulz and Tobias Madsen are Danish You-Tubers who have won awards for their original songs and music videos. Check them out here:

Mika married fellow You-Tuber Jasmin Lind in 2019 and they now have their own channel here:

This is Mika & Tobias’s Christmas music video from 2018, ‘Nu Det Jul’, which has a cosy ‘Last Christmas’ feel and includes mention of several Danish Christmas traditions, such as the family dancing around the Christmas tree, drinking gløgg (Danish mulled wine), eating aebleskiver (doughnut balls), giving out hand-made Christmas decorations created on klippe-klistre day at school, and hiding a peeled almond in the bowl of risengrød (hot rice pudding) for the lucky finder to get a present – usually the youngest child in the family.

Enjoy the video. Below are the lyrics in Danish with English translation. Glaedelig jul!

Danish LyricsTranslation
Mørket er faldet på
Vi har skiftet til vintersko
Vinteren er lige begyndt
Og vi holder ud i kulden
Darkness has fallen
We’ve got our winter shoes on
Winter has just begun
And we’re out in the cold
Stuen den er pyntet op
Drikker gløgg af min julekop
Jeg kan ikke lide det
Jeg har bare aldrig ku’ få mig selv til at sige det
The living room is decorated
I’m drinking gløgg in my Christmas cup
I don’t like it
I’ve just never been able to say it
Julehjerter det skal du ha’
Jeg har lavet dem til klippe-klistre dag
Pebernødder og honningkage
Mor, er der flere æbleskiver tilbage?
Here are Christmas hearts for you
I made them on klippe-klistre day
Peanuts, gingerbread
Mum, are there many æbleskiver left?
Lad os synge en julesang
Familien hånd i hånd
Vi skal danse rundt om træet
Let’s sing a Christmas song
All the family hand in hand
We’ll dance around the tree
For nu er det jul
Vi sætter stjernen på træet
Nu er det jul
Vi skal ha’ gaver og and
Nu er det jul
Med Lars, Chris, Mads og Allan
Nu er det jul
Cause now it’s Christmas
We put the star on the tree
Now it’s Christmas
We’ll have presents and duck
Now it’s Christmas
With Lars, Chris, Mads and Allen
Now it’s Christmas
Vi laver marcipankonfekt
Men vi smider det alligevel væk
Jeg ville ønske jeg var barn igen
For der fik jeg altid mandlen
We make marzipan sweets
But we still throw them away
I wish I was a child again
Because I always got the almond
Familien kommer langvejs fra
Vi hygger men vi mangler far
Julemanden kommer altid frem
Mens far sidder på toilettet
The family comes from far away
We’re having fun, but where is dad
Santa always comes along
While dad’s sitting in the toilet
Julehjerter det skal du ha’
Jeg har lavet dem til klippe-klistre dag
Pebernødder og honningkage
Mor, er der flere æbleskiver tilbage?
Here are Christmas hearts for you
I made them on klippe-klistre day
Peanuts, gingerbread
Mum, are there many æbleskiver left?
Lad os synge en julesang
Familien hånd i hånd
Vi skal danse rundt om træet
Let’s sing a Christmas song
All the family hand in hand
We’ll dance around the tree
For nu er det jul
Vi sætter stjernen på træet
Nu er det jul
Vi skal ha’ gaver og and
Nu er det jul
Med Lars, Chris, Mads og Allan
Glædelig jul!
Cause now it’s Christmas
We put the star on the tree
Now it’s Christmas
We’ll have presents and duck
Now it’s Christmas
With Lars, Chris, Mads and Allen
Merry Christmas!

How do we celebrate Christmas in Japan? クリスマスの過ごし方 Kaede Sugano (LXX)

Many streets, buildings and stores are decorated with twinkling festive lights during the holiday season in Japan. As you no doubt already know, Christmas is originally the annual Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and a widely observed holiday around the world. However, Christmas Day is not a national holiday in Japan.
Christmas in Japan is a little different from Christmas in western countries. Traditionally faiths such as Buddhism and Shinto are practiced in Japan, but usually people here enjoy celebrating Christmas regardless of their religion. (Of course, there are some people who are more strict about religion.) Christmas in Japan is more like a festival and a commercial matter for many people, rather than a sacred event.

Important Christmas food for most Japanese are cake and chicken. Usually cakes are not homemade but purchased, typically by fathers on their way home from work. Some people, however, order very luxurious cakes from famous hotels, while others just buy them at convenience stores.
Fried chicken, especially Kentucky Fried Chicken now enjoys increased popularity, boosted by its good image on TV commercials. At Christmas, many people eat not only roasted but also fried chicken these days, in contrast to people eating turkey, roast beef and so on in western countries.

Instead of decorating a real fir tree, people adorn fairly small, pretty and colorful artificial trees with ornaments - a practical choice for small Japanese houses.
Some couples stay at really luxurious hotels, or enjoy a meal at a restaurant, and exchange expensive gifts, such as watches and scarves and jewelry.
On the other hand, some people still retain a childlike festive wonder, filling stockings with presents and saying they are from Santa Claus. The presents are, however, generally Nintendo games, digital cameras, computerized animal toys and so on. It seems like kids’ presents these days are mostly electrical goods.




The Stephen Spender Prize

Over lockdown, Dr Parolin introduced me to the Stephen Spender Trust’s competition for poetry in translation. I couldn’t wait to get started, as it brought together two of my favourite things: poems and foreign languages. This year, the competition had more than 1300 entries. I submitted 3 poems translated from Italian, Latin and Polish. The Trust had a separate category called the Polish Spotlight; the spotlight is a strand of the competition for the UK’s community languages. Next year, for example, they are holding an Urdu Spotlight! I was extremely happy to find out that I had been commended in the U18 Polish Spotlight for my translation of Adam Zagajewski’s ‘I dlatego’! As a result, I was given the opportunity to attend a brilliant poetry workshop, with award winning poet Kate Clanchy. I also got be a part of an online awards’ evening on the 18th November. It was such a great experience, and I would urge anyone with an interest in MFL to enter next year.

I dlatego – Adam ZagajewskiAnd that’s why – translation by Skye Slatcher
I dlatego chodziłem korytarzami
Tych wielkich muzeów
Patrząc na obrazy świata
Na których Dawid jest niewinny jak harcerz
Goliat zasługuje na nikczemną śmierć
A na płótnach Rembrandta panuje wieczny
Półmrok niepokoju i skupienia
I przechodziłem od sali do sali
Podziwiając portrety cynicznych
W rzymskiej purpurze
Ekstatyczne chłopskie wesela
Namiętnych graczy w karty albo w kości
Oglądając żaglowce bitwy i chwile
I dlatego chodziłem korytarzami
Tych sławnych muzeów tych nieziemskich
Próbując zrozumieć ofiarę Izaaka
Smutek Marii i pogodne niebo nad
I zawsze wracałem na wielkomiejską
Gdzie wciąż trwały szaleństwo cierpienie i
śmiech −
Jeszcze nie namalowane.

And that’s why I walked the corridors
Of these big museums
Looking at paintings of the world
On which David is as innocent as a boy scout
And Goliath deserves fate worse than death
Or on Rembrandt’s canvases an eternal dusk reigns
A dusk of anxiety and focus
And I walked hall to hall
Admiring the portraits of cynical
In Roman purple
Joyous peasant weddings
Passionate players of cards or dice
Looking at sailing battles and moments of reconciliation
And that’s why I walked the corridors
Of these famous museums of these unearthly palaces
Trying to understand Isaac’s sacrifice
Mary’s sorrow and the serene skies over the Seine
And I always returned to the metropolitan streets
Where the chaos suffering and laughter continued –
Not yet painted.


In these peculiar times of isolation and social-distancing, one form of entertainment I have found particularly comforting is a virtual museum or art gallery tour. So, when I was browsing the curated selection of poetry for the Polish Spotlight, and came across ‘I dlatego’ by Adam Zagajewski, I knew I had to choose it. It reflects on the beauty of paintings, concluding with a memorable statement about our lives, ‘not yet painted’.

One challenge I faced, while translating, was retaining the tone that Zagajewski introduces. The poem has a sort of reminiscent, contemplative mood; keeping this was very important. Therefore, I tried to stay as close as possible to the exact imagery in the original, as this plays a key part in setting the atmosphere. 

I found that ‘panuje’ was a difficult word to translate, on line 6. ‘Panuje’ can mean ‘there is’, however I didn’t think that this was the best translation – I wanted to ensure the line was as poetic in English as in Polish. I chose to use the verb ‘reigns’ instead, as this maintains prominence of the dusk in the Rembrandt painting. 

Often, we see Zagajewski using alliteration, for example /p/ on line 6. I decided that I would not keep this in my version, because I couldn’t find the appropriate words to fit both the tone of the poem and the repetition of a letter. 

I think that the poem in its entirety poses a challenge to the translator as well as the reader. Zagajewski leaves the reason for the speaker’s journey through the museum to the imagination. He/she could be looking for inspiration, an escape from reality. To me, however, it speaks of searching for something in a painting that he is missing in his own life, a sense of peace and tranquillity.

Auschwitz – Salvatore QuasimodoAuschwitz – translation by Skye Slatcher
Laggiù, ad Auschwitz, lontano dalla Vistola,
amore, lungo la pianura nordica,
in un campo di morte: fredda, funebre,
la pioggia sulla ruggine dei pali
e i grovigli di ferro dei recinti:
e non albero o uccelli nell’aria grigia
o su dal nostro pensiero, ma inerzia
e dolore che la memoria lascia
al suo silenzio senza ironia o ira.
There, at Auschwitz, far from the Vistula,
My love, on the northern plain,
In a field of death: frore, funereal,
The rain on the rusted posts
And the tangled iron of the fences:
And not a tree, not a bird in the grey air,
Or above our thoughts, but passivity
And pain, which memory abandons
To its silence, without irony, without anger.
Tu non vuoi elegie, idilli: solo
ragioni della nostra sorte, qui,
tu, tenera ai contrasti della mente,
incerta a una presenza
chiara della vita. E la vita è qui,
in ogni no che pare una certezza:
qui udremo piangere l’angelo il mostro
le nostre ore future
battere l’al di là, che è qui, in eterno
e in movimento, non in un’immagine
di sogni, di possibile pietà.
E qui le metamorfosi, qui i miti.
Senza nome di simboli o d’un dio,
sono cronaca, luoghi della terra,
sono Auschwitz, amore. Come subito
si mutò in fumo d’ombra
il caro corpo d’Alfeo e d’Aretusa!
You do not want elegies, nor idylls: only
A reason for our fate, here,
You, sensitive to the conflicts of the mind,
Unsure of a clear presence
Of life. And life is here,
In every ‘no’ that appears a certainty:
Here, we can hear the crying of an angel, the monster,
The hours of our future
Beating at the beyond, which is here, in the eternity,
And in motion, not in a vision
Of dreams of possible pity.
And here are the metamorphoses, here are the myths.
Without the names of symbols or gods,
These are chronicles, places on earth,
These are Auschwitz, my love. Just as suddenly
The dear bodies of Alpheus and Arethusa
Were changed into the smoke of shades!
Da quell’inferno aperto da una scritta
bianca: ” Il lavoro vi renderà liberi ”
uscì continuo il fumo
di migliaia di donne spinte fuori
all’alba dai canili contro il muro
del tiro a segno o soffocate urlando
misericordia all’acqua con la bocca
di scheletro sotto le doccie a gas.
Le troverai tu, soldato, nella tua
storia in forme di fiumi, d’animali,
o sei tu pure cenere d’Auschwitz,
medaglia di silenzio?
From that hell, opened by a white
Inscription: ‘Arbeit macht frei’
The continuous smoke spewed out,
That of thousands of women pushed out
At dawn from the kennels, into the wall
Of execution, or suffocated, screaming
For mercy in the water with mouths
Like skeletons under the showers of gas.
You will discover them, soldier, in your
History, in the shape of rivers, creatures,
Or are you, too, ashes of Auschwitz,
Medal of silence?
Restano lunghe trecce chiuse in urne
di vetro ancora strette da amuleti
e ombre infinite di piccole scarpe
e di sciarpe d’ebrei: sono reliquie
d’un tempo di saggezza, di sapienza
dell’uomo che si fa misura d’armi,
sono i miti, le nostre metamorfosi.
Long tresses rest enclosed in urns
Of glass, still bound by amulets,
And the endless shadows of little shoes,
And Jewish shawls; they are relics
Of a time of wisdom, of knowledge
Of a man measured by arms
They are the myths, they are our metamorphoses.
Sulle distese dove amore e pianto
marcirono e pietà, sotto la pioggia,
laggiù, batteva un no dentro di noi,
un no alla morte, morta ad Auschwitz,
per non ripetere, da quella buca
di cenere, la morte.
On the expanses, where love and tears
And pity rot in the rain,
There, a ‘No’ pounding within us,
A ‘No’ to death, dead at Auschwitz,
Not to repeat, from that pit
Of ashes, death.


Auschwitz by Quasimodo tells the reader of the horrors of the Holocaust. I decided to translate this poem, because, having visited Auschwitz myself, it was one I felt the most connection to. While I cannot imagine the terrible things he went through, I walked the same path as he would have, and I saw the same watchtowers and ‘tangled iron of the fences’. The poem is filled with metaphors, for example Alpheus and Arethusa, which is a reference to classical mythology, not surprising considering Quasimodo’s background in Latin and Greek translation, and creates an extremely moving atmosphere.

During the process of translation, I did face some challenges, for example the translation of ‘un campo’. In Italian, this can be interpreted as both a field and a concentration camp. While in the context of Auschwitz, concentration camp may have been the most obvious choice, I chose field, because, in the Italian, Quasimodo creates the assonance of f (‘fredda, funebre’) and I wanted to keep this. It also continues the image of the ‘plain’. Similarly, I chose ‘frore’ rather than ‘cold’ for ‘fredda’, as it used the f and sounded more poetic.

Lines 25-26 were also a challenge, due to the difference of word order in Italian and English. I chose therefore to switch the lines to ensure that my translation didn’t sound like an originally English poem.

Another difficult decision I had to make was the translation of ‘muro del tiro a segno’, which is literally ‘wall of target practice’, though this is not poetic and ‘practice’ sounded like the Nazis could miss or let people live, and this was not the case. I chose ‘the wall of execution’, because, although I lose Quasimodo’s metaphor, it is brutally direct, which was my intention, and it doesn’t take away from the meaning.

Japan Day 〜日本文化の体験〜 — Hikari Sugano (F)

We had a Japan day on 9th of October, and here is an article written by Japanese F block how she felt about the day.


— Silent Voice (2017)



A few days ago, as part of our F-block enrichment, we had an Activities Day to learn about Japanese culture. All the classes were cancelled for the day, so the children learned about Japanese culture through hands-on experience. The first activity was to watch the Japanese movie “Silent Voice”. This is a famous film in Japan, which is a love story between a deaf girl and a bully. I think all the students could easily relate to it. We watched it in Japanese with English subtitles. After watching the film, we were divided into groups to make posters about the film. I think the students of other nationalities were able to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture. In the afternoon, all the students made and ate sushi rolls together. Due to the coronavirus, we couldn’t use raw fish, but we wrapped vegetables with sushi rice and seaweed. The rolls were given to the students as gifts. They enjoyed it very much and it made me proud to be a Japanese person who is able to experience Japanese culture on a daily basis.

访谈:张老师/ Interview: Teacher Zhang – Cherry Chung (DB)













Tell us a bit about yourself: 

Hello! My name is Amy Zhang, I am a Chinese teacher, I teach Chinese at Rugby School. I really like my job because I like to teach students. When I am together with students, I will feel that I am a lot younger.  

Why did you want to teach at this school? 

As a teacher, it is extremely happy to work at such a vibrant and challenging school. Due to the long history of Rugby School and the harmonious atmosphere on campus, the teachers are very dedicated, but not only do the students work very hard, but they also have a good attitude.

When you were my age, what was your ideal job? 

When I was in high school, I hoped that I could go to a good university, and study the major I want to study, after that, have a good job. 

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

I think that being a teacher is a very sacred profession because being a teacher can teach and educate people, especially when I see students make process and get good grades, I am very happy. Being a teacher can not only teach students knowledge, but it also expands your own knowledge even more.

Is learning Chinese important? 

I believe that learning Chinese is very important because Chinese is now one of the world’s most spoken language and China is an ancient civilization with a history of more than 5,000 years. In terms of students, Chinese is a very broad subject. In the future, there should be more room for development in future selection work.

In the future, what is something you most want to do? 

In the future, I hope to travel to many different countries, so that I can learn more about the customs and history of the countries.