[French] Christmas fighting with family and friends

Christmas fighting

In Chumbivilcas Province in Peru, the inhabitants have a rather unusual festival called "Takanakuy", which could be described as "Christmas fighting".  Right before Christmas, they have preliminary drinking and dancing in costumes before heading to a local bullfighting ring where they fight each other. The residents first hug each other and wrap their fists with scarves. They cry out the name of their opponents and start the fight.

The idea is to settle conflicts with family members, friends or strangers. Whether they "stole" your girlfriend or still haven't paid you back for the money you lent them, any dispute can be solved within the ring in a festive, albeit violent, way.

By Man Kit Leong

[French] The power of Japanese weather dolls

Japanese weather dolls

In Japan, kids are taught about teru teru bozu (shiny bald-headed monk) from a very early age. These Japanese weather dolls, made from two squares of cloth, resembles a small ghost. But in fact, it’s meant to represent a monk’s bald head. Traditionally, it’s made when a child wants to ask for good weather for the next day – it’s a way of asking the sun to come out and make the bald doll’s head shiny. If the skies actually became clear, the wisher draws eyes on its teru teru bozu and soaks it in holy sake, before sending it down the river.

In order to encourage good weather, the children must sing a song while making their teru teru bozu. Though the origins of this tradition are debated, many believe the lyrics give a clue!

Listen to the song for yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnXl9jNy7o0

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu/ Make tomorrow a sunny day/ Like the sky in a dream sometime/If it’s sunny I’ll give you a golden bell

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu/ Make tomorrow a sunny day/ If you make my wish come true/ We’ll drink lots of sweet rice wine

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu/ Make tomorrow a sunny day / But if the clouds are crying/ Then I shall snip your head off

Spooky enough? And rightfully so; it relates to the legend of a monk, who promised a feudal lord a nice day. After the wish wasn't fulfilled, the lord chopped the head of the monk off. Even if the roots of the legend seem to be sad, today it is a traditional practice that brings kids a lot of joy.

by Katarzyna Kwasniewska


[French] The sacred laws of Italian cappuccino

Italian Cappuccino

Do you know the rules of the Italian cappuccino? Knowing when it's socially acceptable to have one is especially important, because if you order one after 11am, the barista will immediately know that you are a foreigner. Cappuccino is seen exclusively as a breakfast drink due to its high milk content, which fills you up; so much so that an Italian breakfast usually consists of just a cappuccino and a few biscuits. You shouldn't have a cappuccino after a meal, as the milk is bad for your digestion – if you want a coffee remember that if you order "un caffé", you'll be given an espresso, not a long coffee ("un caffé lungo").

by Kathryn Rose


Names matter! What does yours say about you?

Names metter

Because they can say a lot about you and they identify you, names matter. Nowadays, when we hear a name, we usually make assumptions about various characteristics, including age, class and race.

According to a recent study, people whose names are easier to pronounce tend to be evaluated more positively than those with hard to pronounce names. Words have a psychological effect; we tend to make either positive or negative associations depending on our childhood experiences. This not only applies to people, but also to companies or brands names, which can evoke specific images in our mind, that can be either positive or negative.

These associations shape our perception of the brand, and can certainly influence us in the way we feel about it. A brand’s name is what helps us form emotional links with the brand itself, and Apple is a good example of this. Its name is associated with freshness, sweetness and good health, which are all positive attributes that can attract customers, make them curious and willing to remain loyal to the brand if only associated with positive experiences and emotions. The name of a brand is of paramount importance, as it contains the brand’s identity, its personality, its values and its reputation.

Sometimes brand names have been chosen so well that customers call all similar products by the same name. Google for example, apart from China, where it’s blocked, has become the universal term for internet searches. Choosing a memorable name is the first step to success, and it’s really important that it is appealing to the target audience, it captures well what the brands stand for, and it can stay relevant over the years.

How about you? Do you identify yourself with your name?

By Maria D'Innocenzo