The Christmas Series - Part 1 - The Snowman


With an early kick-off to the Christmas season, I've decided to start with a warm (or should I say snowy) series of Christmas posts, covering all aspects of a very wonderful Christmas. For starters, I've decided to include the lyrics of one of the best if not my favourite Christmas songs - We're Walking in the Air. It is part of a fascinating wordless half-hour Christmas television programme called 'The Snowman' by Raymond Briggs, repeated every Christmas eve since 1982 on Britain's Channel 4. And yes, it's true, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without 'The Snowman'; I've watched it every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember!

'The Snowman' tells the story of a little boy who wakes up on Christmas eve to find that it's snowing. He goes outside and makes a snowman. When he goes to bed he notices that the snowman he created has become alive, magically! He rushes outside to embark on a ship of many adventures with this mythical creature. They do everything from trying on some of the little boy's dad's clothes, turning the Christmas tree lights on and off and bathing in a freezer to racing through the woods on a motorbike! Eventually they both take off, across the frozen world to join Father Christmas, the reindeer and all the other snowmen on a big snowman dance. The little boy receives a scarf from Father Christmas and in the end they fly back home. To the great disappointment of the little boy he wakes up on Christmas day to find the Snowman melted - but he still has the scarf in his hand...

The magical, enchanting tale comprises a wonderful song - We're Walking in the Air, sung by Peter Auty and written by Howard Blake. This song is so great I've decided to play it on the piano this year, and as part of my English homework, here are the lyrics, with a Swedish translation:

Here is the link for 'The Snowman' on YouTube - a timeless classic. And here is a separate link for just the Walking in the Air video, with English and Swedish subtitles. Please, look out for more posts in The Christmas Series!

Four exciting festivals - wow!


Now, when October is nearing to an end and November and December are looming upon us, with dark days, dark(er) nights, cold and bad weather with quite a gloomy and dull climate... four exciting festivals are coming up! This is the beginning of the festive season! Forget about the bad weather... think of the great festivities! For starters we had UN day on the 24th and now comes the Hindu/Sikh/Jain festival of light, Diwali or Deepavali, followed by a (hopefully) spooky Hallowe'en, which marks the very beginning of Christmas, Yuletide - it's wonderful!

So, here are the details on the three periods of festivities:

1. UN Day - Celebrating the birthday of the United Nations; created in 1945 as a big worldwide union to prevent war and poverty. The festival is celebrated in many parts of the world as a day to celebrate internationality and nations!

2. Diwali/Deepavali (দীপাবলী/दीपावली/தீபாவளி) - one of the biggest Indian festivals - as big as Christmas in the west - the Festival of Lights. The festival is based on a story celebrating light over darkness and the victory of good over evil. The story is about the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile and a war in which he killed the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps to light their path in the darkness. This is why many Hindu homes are thoroughly cleaned and oil lamps are lit. It is also believed that the goddess Laxmi will come and bless their homes. In some parts of the world such as the UK and Singapore this festival is not strictly celebrated by Hindus, but non-religiously appreciated by those of other religions, similar to Christmas. Celebrations include having firework nights, putting up festive lights, decorating the house with flowers and sharing sweets.

3. Hallowe'en - is the spookiest festival of the year, passed down from ancient traditions to today's scary carved Jack-o-lanterns (pumpkins), reading scary stories and watching horror films, lighting bonfires and going trick-or-treating! Originally an Irish festival, with activities such as apple-bobbing, Hallowe'en is really scary and exciting now!

I think that Christmas will get its own post later. In the mean time, HAVE FUN!!!

(Popular) British Cuisine


There are lots of people who just think that Britain has no cuisine whatsoever. And the majority of the few people who do believe can only imagine tea and scones with jam and cream. Cream tea is British cuisine, but it's not the staple everyday diet of most Brits. When I say British cuisine, I don't mean Masterchef-style fancy-hardly-anything-on-the-plate-food, but I mean regular things that people eat and by from Tesco's (a supermarket chain) - stuff that is popular in the UK. It's not always traditional, it's not always completely British - it's often a mix of many cuisines, and it's not always especially healthy either. But it's food that people in the UK like - and visitors in the UK should try.

And before you ask - fish and chips is not the only British supper. Scrambled/poached/fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages, toast, baked beans and mushrooms are all part of an English breakfast - normally too rich and too much for a breakfast! Let's continue with a snack - the scotch egg. Not actually Scottish, the scotch egg is an egg coated with a layer of sausagemeat. Delicious hot or cold, there are variations, such as savoury eggs (mashed egg with mayonnaise in mini sausagemeat coated balls) - which I like best! Savoury eggs are really good for snacks and picnics. Then there's the roast dinner, which many people in the UK like to tuck into on a Sunday or at Christmas, with beef, chicken or turkey - which consists of vegetables, roast potatoes and roast meat... yum. Curry is a very popular dish in Britain originating from India, and now there's at least one South Asian take-away in most towns. Contrary to popular belief, Chicken Tikka Masala is not an South Asian dish. Yes, it's based on South Asian food, but according to the BBC, it was invented in a Glasgow curry house, when one day a man thought his tandoori chicken was too dry, and asked for some gravy. The chef then added a tin of tomato soup and a pinch of spices, and Britain's true national dish was born (according to the former former secretary Robin Cook).

Some other delicious British dishes/snacks consist of: Scottish Shortbread, fudge, Weetabix (wheat cereal biscuits eaten with milk for breakfast which go with just about anything - from honey to raspberries to chocolate ice cream!), Hoola Hoops (some sort of crisps), Mini Cheedar Cheese Biscuits (miles from the American 'Goldfish' biscuits), Chocolate-coated oaty biscuits (Hob-Nobs), the delectable Cadbury's British chocolate (read Roald Dahl's 'Boy - Tales of Childhood' - tremendously delicious - a wonderful unique taste), sausage rolls (rolls of pastry bulging with tasty sausagemeat), pork pies and last but not least, at Christmas time, mince pies - scrumptious little pies filled with mincemeat; not actually meat, but a mixture of different jams, berries and fruits.

Finally, although bit off-topic, I would like to wish all those who celebrate the festival of Durga Puja all the best! PS: Coincidentally, the day after I finished this post, I found out that the British Food Fortnight is currently ongoing - celebrating British food. Have a look for more ideas here and here too!