As we move through the month of December, many are celebrating the Advent countdown with the reward of a chocolate every morning. While this relatively recent tradition of daily treats is certainly a wonderful one, the history and culture of the Advent goes far beyond this.
The word Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ in Latin and refers to the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. Since its origin, various Christian countries have developed their own traditions and celebrations for this time of year:
Planning a trip to South Asia or just want to learn more about the region? The following tips and facts will give you an insight into its rich and varied culture for all your travel needs:
1. There is a saying that Bangladeshis maintain ‘Bangladesh’ time, and so you might notice that they display a rather casual attitude toward timekeeping. If you are visiting someone socially, allow plenty of time for this relaxed attitude: they will want to chat before a meal and then relax and chat some more, afterwards.
2. The many festivals and celebrations of Bangladesh have given rise to the expression “baro mashe tero parbon” (thirteen festivals in twelve months). These include Nabanno Utsab (Harvest Festival), Basanta Utsab (Spring Festival) and Pokela Boishakh (Bengali New Year’s Day). This New Year celebration is actually held on April 14th as it follows the Bengali calendar, rather than the Western Gregorian calendar.
India is seen world-wide as a large, colourful country steeped in tradition and history. There is more to the people of India than what meets the eye – as such here are 5 things you need to know about Indian culture before your visit!
- FOOD: Indian food tastes better when eaten by hand. Food should only touch your fingertips, and although people will be polite if you dirty your fingers past the knuckle, they will be disgusted.
Tipping culture is a worldwide matter – anywhere you go the etiquette for tipping will vary from place to place. It is often required by both locals and tourists/visitors alike to tip an appropriate amount to those working in the service industries. If you are travelling to North America, here is a quick guide on how to tip accordingly:
USA & Canada
Visitors should be aware that many workers in service industries receive the minimum wage and rely on tips to make a decent income. The expected amount varies, but is more in touristy area, larger cities, and better-class hotels, restaurants, or hair salons. In both USA and Canada, allow a $1 a bag for bellhops and airport porters (more if you’re toting a trunk full of college books or an unwieldly ski bag).
10 Cultural Tips and Facts From South America
All the following cultural tips and facts are taken straight from five of our many guides within the South American region. The titles used within this blog post include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
- Be careful with gestures when visiting South America. In Argentina, the “thumb and forefinger circle” gesture stands for OK – unlike in neighbouring Brazil, where it is vulgar and offensive. The “thumbs up” gesture can be used freely as it also stands for OK.
- Whether in the afternoon or in the morning, facturas are a must. The delicious pastries come in various shapes with different fillings such as custard, cream, and jam. Media lunas (croissants,) are perhaps the most common facturas usually accompanied by a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Be aware facturas is also the Spanish word for “invoice”.
‘What’s your favourite Peruvian food?’ is a question that you are guaranteed to be asked over and over when traveling in Peru. Food is an obsession for most Peruvians but a justifiable one as their cuisine is recognised as one of the best in the world.
Peruvian cuisine has its roots in ancient superfoods such as quinoa, avocados, maize and potatoes as well as integrating more recent influences of Japanese and Chinese cuisines.
However, your answer to the question will very much depend on where you have been in Peru as there are significant variations around the country.
To accompany our new releases we’re returning to our Behind the Pen series of interviews with the authors of Culture Smart!. In the series we take a closer look at who our authors are, how they became conversant in a culture they were not born into, and what they’ve gained from their cultural experiences abroad.
Meet Patricia Voute – one of the authors of Culture Smart! Singapore. Tricia Voute has a B.A. in Anthropology from Durham University and an M.A. in the Philosophy of Religion from King’s College, London. She has taught philosophy in different parts of the world and written textbooks on the subject, as well as articles on cultural and faith issues in the Times and other publications. Tricia lived in Singapore for five years, teaching religion and philosophy at the Tanglin School. She was involved in teacher training in local schools and has Singaporean friends across the social and religious spectrum.
Mention Denmark to most people, and they may think of Viking raiders with horned helmets, looting and pillaging their way across Europe. Others may think of one of Denmark’s more famous exports—Carlsberg beer, or the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. But of the Danes themselves they will probably know very little.
This talented, industrious people have made important contributions to European and world culture. They have created a social model that has been the envy of some and is an example to many, and are justifiably proud of their achievements. While the Danes may be difficult to get to know, they are a friendly, fair-minded, and civilized people who are most certainly worth knowing.
Here are 5 important tips and facts on Danish culture to help soften your landing.
Colombia has many jewels in its crown. It is a land of rainforests, coffee plantations, pristine beaches and bustling, vibrant metropolises. It’s greatest asset however, is the Colombians themselves. Who are the people of this culturally rich and ethnically diverse country? And more importantly, how can I break the ice, interact and connect with them while I’m there?
Written by Katherine Foreman
When I decided to do my third year of university in London, the thought of experiencing ‘culture shock’ didn’t cross my mind. Sure, I sat through plenty of preparation meetings as my guidance counsellor flashed around her standard U-curve diagram outlining the various stages of acclimating to a new culture, but I wasn’t paying attention. “It happens to everyone,” she iterated and reiterated as I stared blankly at the wall behind her, imagining the brown-brick flat I’d wake up to everyday in Marylebone.
It’s a commonality for students going abroad for lengthy periods of time to underestimate the extent to which they’ll be affected by changes to their environment and daily life, however subtle. It’s also vastly common, as it was in my case, for students to assume they know much more about the culture they’re entering than they do in actuality.