We are waiting for Christmas – What about you?

Adventskalender
The “Adventskalender”. Each one has a different picture.

It’s Christmas time! Here at Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium we only have two days of school left until our Christmas holiday starts and we are all looking forward to meeting many relatives and all family members and to having some not too busy days off.

Christmas is one of the most important days in Christianity and that’s why all our houses are already decorated with candles, window stickers or special Christmas table cloths. We also have many traditions which are all related to Christmas:

Children are counting the days to Christmas eve by opening doors at their “Adventskalender”. This is a kind of framed picture where you can find the numbers from 1 to 24 printed on it. Starting with December 1st each day you are allowed to open one small door placed right under the fitting number. And mostly you will find some piece of chocolate that will sweeten the waiting till Christmas.

Adventskranz
The “Adventskranz”. Three candles are already burning.

The 4 Sundays before Christmas we light a candle at our “Adventskranz”. The “Adventskranz” is a wreath made from branches of fir trees and which is decorated with dried orange-slices, wooden ornaments or some other accessories. The most important parts are the four candles. Four weeks before Christmas we are allowed to light the first candle; the second can be lit in the second week and right before Christmas all four candles are burning happily. In addition we sing special Christmas songs while lighting the candles.

And at Christmas eve? Most of the families have their own tradition how to celebrate this special day. Going to service at night, a locked room where the “Christkindl” will place the Christmas tree and will bring presents and of course a lot of Christmas songs like “Silent night” which will be sung in front of the tree.

If you are interested we can put some pictures online and tell you more about our Christmas. But first you have to tell us, if you celebrate Christmas in India as well and what kind of traditions you have. We are looking forward to read your stories in the comment section.

Ways of greeting in India – “Culture shock reloaded”

Some readers and especially some colleagues told me that they want to read more about my “culture shock” experiences. They want to know more about “Dos and don’ts in India” because my first three experiences weren’t enough.

So let me tell you more about another part of Indian culture which seems to vary significantly from my German habits. It is the way how you greet somebody in India you don’t know yet.

The German approach
German handshake
A firm handshake

In Germany it is easy. You offer your hand for a firm handshake, look your “new friend” straight into the eyes and greet him or her with a nice “Grüß Gott” (a formal greeting in the southern part of Germany). In India things can be different and a little bit tricky.

Being on an exchange nobody would be offended if you greet your host parents the same way. They know that a foreigner is coming and they are familiar with this western kind of greeting ritual. But for greeting your exchange partner’s grandma or the school’s principal another strategy is recommended.

The Indian way
Namaste
Namaste!

The Indian word to greet somebody respectfully is “Namaste“. This words derives from Sanskrit and can be translated to “I bow to you”.  The right pronouncation of this word can be learned by watching this video. “Namaste” combined with a humble smile is never the wrong choice. If you want to be more formal while being introduced to an important guest or family member Continue reading “Ways of greeting in India – “Culture shock reloaded””