Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas Markets in Europe

I am spending this week in Prague, that is how I got the inspiration to write about Christmas markets. It is definitely worth visiting any European capitals at this time of the year even if the weather is quite cold. You can enjoy walking round the main squares, looking at the stalls selling different kinds of Christmas products, having a warm drink and some food and listening to music.

The advent markets:



Bratislava day and night

The typical products you can buy on the Christmas markets:

                                                           Christmas ornaments

Snow globes

Akvarell paintings

Gingerbread figures

Typical food and drink choice:


Mulled wine

Kürtöskalács (chimney cake)

Roasted chestnuts

There are still three more weekends until Christmas! Have a nice visit!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving Day

Previously we dealt with a British traditional holiday. Now it is the American's turn as today is the fourth Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving Day is always the fourth Thursday in November. It is a federal holiday in the USA, so schools, banks, post offices, and government offices are closed. Thanksgiving was the first holiday celebrated in America.

The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 when the pilgrims (a small group of people who sailed from England to North America in order to start a new life) invited the Indians to a three-day feast to celebrate the autumn harvest.
                                              The pilgrims and the Indians feasting together

Typical Thanksgiving Day meal:
Main Course: Stuffed turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce


 Cranberry sauce

Desert: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream

Order the directions how to roast a turkey.

-          Put 3 tablespoons of butter on both sides between the skin and breast meat
-          Place the turkey in a roasting pan
-          Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
-          Cover with foil
-          Sprinkle seasoning salt over the turkey
-          Rinse and wash the turkey
-          Separate the skin over the breast to make little pockets
-          For the last 45 minutes or so, remove the foil so the turkey will brown nicely
-          Bake it in the preheated oven 3 ½ to 4 hours

Guy Fawkes Night


                                                                The conspirators

The Gunpowder Plot is the name given to the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605, which was discovered the night before. The plot centred around five conspirators, among them Guy (or Guido) Fawkes. 

                                                                   Guy Fawkes 

They were determined to blow up the House of Lords in 1605. The detonation was to take place on State Opening day, when the King, Lords and Commons would all be present in the Lords Chamber.

                                                      The Houses of Parliament in old times

On the 4th November, due to an anonymous letter warning one of the MPs not to attend the event, the Parliament was searched and Fawkes was found in the cellar at midnight with the gunpowder. He was then arrested and executed for treason in the Tower of London along with the co-conspirators.

                                      Tower Hill - the execution site in the Tower of London

The 5th November is variously called 'Firework Night', 'Bonfire Night' or 'Guy Fawkes Day'. It is still the custom for Britain on, or around, 5th November to let off fireworks and children to make guys.

                                                          Burning Guy in the Bonfire 

The Houses of Parliament are still searched by the Yeomen of the Guard just before the State Opening (normally held in November since 1928) to ensure no latter-day Fawkes is in the cellars, though this is retained as a picturesque custom rather than a serious anti-terrorist precaution.

                                                                     the Yeomen

Match the vocabulary items with their definition. There is one extra word.

conspiracy, cellar, gunpowder, arrest, execute, treason, custom, fireworks, yeoman, precaution

1. an underground room often used for storing things

2. an accepted way of behaving or of doing things in a society or a community

3. (in Britain in the past) a farmer who owned and worked on his land

4. explosive powder used especially in bombs or fireworks

5. something that is done in advance in order to prevent problems or to avoid danger

6. a secret plan by a group of people to do something harmful or illegal

7. to kill somebody, especially as a legal punishment

8. the crime of doing something that could cause danger to your country, such as helping its enemies during a war

9. to be taken to a police station and kept there because the police believe they may be guilty of a crime

Answer the following questions

What is the Gunpowder Plot?

When was it revealed?

Who was Guy Fawkes?

What happened to the conspirators?

How do British People commemorate this historical event?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Halloween is now celebrated across the world on the night of 31st October. Modern day celebrations generally involve groups of children dressed in scary costumes going from house to house, demanding “trick-or-treat”. 

Children ask for treats (chocolates, candies, etc.) on Halloween and threaten to play tricks on those who refuse.

The Origins

It is believed that Halloween originates from a Celtic tradition called Samhain. The dark half of the year was beginning at the night of Oct. 31. The Celts believed the dead returned to Earth and the boundaries of the living and dead were blurred.
In the mid-19th century Irish and other immigrants took Halloween customs to the USA and by 1900 it was a popular festival.

The Jack-o-lantern
Every time we carve a pumpkin head at Halloween, we honour “Stingy Jack.,” but who is he?

Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who loved playing tricks on anyone. One dark, Halloween night, Jack ran into the Devil himself in a local public house (pub). Jack tricked the Devil by offering his soul in exchange for one last drink.
When he died, he was allowed to enter neither heaven nor hell. The Devil gave him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".

That is why originally, Jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips and potatoes in Ireland, and of beats in England. When the European immigrants came to America, and found the pumpkin they started to make the lanterns of it. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Tökfesztivál in Rácalmás

Whether we call it Marrow, Squash or Pumpkin Festival in English, it is still the biggest event of Rácalmás in autumn. Rácalmás is a little town on the bank of the Danube, located 65 kms south from the capital city, Budapest.

This year the festival takes place from 30th September to 2nd October in Jankovich Kúria (Mansion). Apart from the handicraft market, the program includes a lot of interesting concerts and performances.

You can see the detailed program here:  Tökfesztivál program

Do you know the English names of the different cucurbita species?

Marrow (British English)

 Pattypan squash

Courgette (British English) / Zucchini (American English)


If you visit the festival, you can taste some typical squash dishes.

Pumpkin Cream Soup

Courgette Ratatioulle (similar to Hungarian lecsó)

If you are still hungry, let's have some Tökös-mákos rétes (marrow-poppy seed strudel) for dessert.

Monday, 19 September 2011

September: Harvesting Grapes

Most grapes are harvested during the weeks of September. If your family owns a vineyard, it can be a funny weekend program to invite friends and relatives to pick the grapes together.

After processing the grapes, at first must is created.

Must = freshly pressed grape juice

The fermentation begins with adding yeast to the juice. Finally the taste of the wine depends on the experience of the winemaker and the quality of the grapes.
There are different kinds of wine: white, rose and red.

Have you ever heard about Schiller wine?
The Schiller wine is a rose-colored wine produced from a mixture of red and white grapes, which are harvested and pressed at the same time. The two types of grapes have to be blended before fermentation.

Hungary has plenty of famous wine regions, for example Tokaj which is famous for its Aszú, a kind of sweet white wine or Eger with the popular Bull's Blood.

                                                            The Hungarian wine regions

Hungarian people don't usually drink wine from foreign countries because the wine we produce is of very good quality.
But if I travel with my English friend around the world we prefer South American and Spanish types.

Either a bottle of Rioja from the north of Spain or a bottle of Argentinian Malbec is always part of our holidays.