Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Knowing other culture through learning Dutch

Learning language in general is an entrance of learning other cultures. It also applies when I study Dutch. Especially, it helps learners a lot to learn of Dutch society and culture. But actually not only that, we eventually learn and exchange culture of people these who study Dutch language.

One of these class activities during the Dutch summer school was to discuss how our cultures celebrates birthday.

Well, most of our society monotonously celebrate our birthday by eating cake and giving gifts. It seems no uniqueness. However, once we discuss, we found certain differences...

In the Philippines

Starting from the practice which I am certainly familiar with...
In the Philippines a celebrant prepares something to eat. While I was working in University, a colleague cooked meals for other teachers on her Birthday. She technically fed us all in the faculty lounge (around 50 people!) . It was a very delicious and complete meal with vegetable, meat, rice, cake and ice cream.

I feel that our life is given by the God (if you do not believe it, let's say your parents...). Instead of being celebrated, it would be beautiful to initiate celebration of your day.

In Netherlands
People usually remember people's Birthday. Because most likely, the calendar in side toilet marks family, relatives and friends' birthday.
At the age of 50, quite a lot of people throw a big birthday party. Female reaches 50 year-old is called Sarah, and male is called Abraham. Abraham and Sarah are figures in the Bible. According to the Bible, both lived long. That is the reason of these names and practice.

My group-mates' countries
In Cambodia, according to my classmate, a celebrant invites people and have a lunch or dinner in the restaurant. Usually parents pay the cost. In her case, she invites 50-60 people. Wow...

Polish friend explained "name day". There is a name Day calendar which assigns name of person on certain day. For example, your name is Anna. Then, you might celebrate your name day on July 26th. Polish has two birthday celebration a year. However, according to my classmate, younger generation pay less attention to the name day.

Her name day happened to be during our Dutch summer camp. Then, she let us experience it. She prepared nice soup and cakes. Then, later part of our class became a petite Birthday party.  

Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag!

she cooked nice mustard soup. Lekker!

In Japan
Ops, I almost forget to mention about my country. Japanese did not have a custom to celebrate birthday for long time. Some says current practice started after the World War II.
We counted our age as "Kazoe doshi",East Asian age reckoning, which counts newborns at the age of one year. At the time, everyone aged at the same time, on January 1st all together. So, if a person is born in December, s/he will be 2 years old in January. This practice lasted until the law has been changed in 1949.

As earlier I mentioned, decades and long time ago people did not celebrate their Birthday. However, there are several cultural practices existed celebrate certain ages. Such as shi-go-san, which means seven-five-three. It is a traditional rite of passage for three and seven years old girls and three and five years old boys, celebrate the growth and well-being of young annually on November 15.

How would you celebrate your birthday?

Other articles - Dutch summer school 2016 - 

1. Why I need to learn Dutch?
9. Class activity-Communicate in Dutch with local people: going to the Pancake house
12. Preparation-MUST do! before joining Dutch summer school
14. Epilogue:  After the camp - what remains

These are my view and experience...therefore, if you want to know more about the school, please visit the official website>> blc language course website
Tel: +31-648074618
Mail: study@dutchsummerschool.nl


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