Filed under: Culture, Holidays, Language, Language Learning, Multiculturalism, Translation Services, Web Localization
On November 1 (All Saints Day), deceased children are celebrated (called angelitos); on November 2, (All Souls Day) deceased adults are celebrated. In order to make the holiday appear “more Christian”, Day of the Dead combines both days and all deceased family members are celebrated. The idea is that the spirits return on this one day of the year to be together with their families. Festivities take place in cities and villages throughout Mexico, though each location may have different customs and ways of honoring their dead. Many years ago, relatives used to be buried close to families or sometimes, in a tomb, located under the family home.
After cleaning the house and setting up an altar in one’s home, offrendas or offerings are displayed on the altar and offered to the ancestors. It is believed that the deceased relatives consume the food by its essence or aroma.
By far, the most popular offering is the sugar skull. These skulls are made into a sugar mixture and then pressed into a skull shape, dried and iced with icing. Although they are edible, most sugar skulls are used for decoration only. Sugar skull art is very popular in Mexico. The name of the celebrated deceased is written on the sugar skull and then placed on the altar.
Pan de muertos (bread of the dead) is also placed on the altar as an offrenda. It is a sweet, soft bread often decorated with pieces of dough shaped likes bones. These bones represent the dead loved ones and there is also a tear-shaped piece of dough baked on the bread. The bread is often flavored with anise seeds or orange flower water.
Although at first glance Halloween and Day of the Dead seem similar and both are rooted from early cultural beliefs about death and Christianity, unlike Halloween, the Day of the Dead celebrants don’t view the spirits as malevolent; they welcome and celebrate them.
Day of the Dead is not at all scary. It is joyous, loud and especially colorful! I am an avid collector of sugar skulls and Day of the Dead crosses. They are so bright-looking and joyful. I even hang sugar skulls ornaments on my Christmas tree! The pictures in this blog are all things that I own.
¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!
Filed under: Culture, Globalization For Business, History, Language, Translation Services, Web Localization
According to the Chinese government, China has language teachers in 75 universities around the U.S. as well as nearly in 300 primary and middle schools. China trains the instructors and pays half of their salaries. There are more than one billion Chinese speakers in the world and some of them are now school-aged American children.
An agency called the “Confucius Institute” (whose mission it is to elevate China’s reputation world-wide) is at the heart of the matter. These institutes are organized and financed by the Chinese government and are located worldwide. When accepted by a school or university, it becomes the school’s ready-made Mandarin language department.
In a poor struggling schoolroom in Macon, Georgia, Chinese classes are being taught. According to ABC news, the city of Macon partnered with China and its Hanban Confucius Institute, whose mission is to improve the country’s image abroad. There are about 25 elementary schools in the Macon area who are participating.
Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, many in the US government are not so sure. Some US Chinese experts feel that what seems like a simple and very useful idea is actually covering up a “stealth public-relations campaign for a communist government with a terrible human rights record.”
A school district located outside of Los Angeles was set to receive similar funds from the Chinese government but severe backlash from the community forced them to turn it down. Officials were worried about Communist materials and information being disseminated by the teachers and Chinese government.
A US teacher is always in the room while a Chinese teacher is teaching Mandarin and this really seems to be a good way to strengthen the goodwill between US and China. The Chinese teachers do not come with their own curriculum. There are also budget issues that keep Mandarin from being taught in US schools, so it does seem to be win-win collaboration.
These views feel like we are going back to the 1960s, where Americans viewed the Russian as the “enemy”. Are we now afraid of the Chinese? And if so, what exactly are we afraid of?