Lunar New Year of the Ox – Welcome!

Lunar New Year of the Ox – Welcome!

Who celebrates the Lunar New Year? China and other Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year, also referred to as Chinese Chunjie, Korean Solnal, Vietnamese Tet, Tibetan Losar, or more commonly as the Spring Festival. In 2021, we welcome the Lunar New Year of the Ox! The origins of the Lunar New Year festival take place thousands of years ago with the legend of the Nian. Nian was a terrible monster that devoured human flesh on New Year’s Day. The stories explain that the beast was afraid of loud noises, fire and of the colour red. Consequently, during the celebration, fireworks are lit, red lanterns are hung and a lion made out of several people in costumes walks the streets.  When does it take place? The festivities begin with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and end 15 days later, on the first full moon. The dates of the holiday vary from one year to the other as they follow the cycles of the moon. The holiday usually takes place between the 21st January and the 20th February of the Gregorian Calendar. In addition, a few days before the New Year, the sweeping of the ground starts: people fully clean their houses in the hope of getting rid of all the lingering bad vibes. It is customary for people celebrating Chinese New Year to give each other small red envelopes containing money. Furthermore, the Lantern Festival takes place on the last day of the Lunar New Year’s celebrations. If you are lucky enough to be in a place that celebrates it, you will find yourself amazed and...
Taiwanese Culture: What is it? How is it different from China?

Taiwanese Culture: What is it? How is it different from China?

Taiwan & China Taiwan and China’s relationship is quite politically charged and controversial. However, regardless of whether one views Taiwan as part of China or not, there is a common misconception that life in Taiwan and China is exactly the same. However, Taiwanese culture and linguistic differences from Mainland China are quite interesting to learn about. Let’s go over a few of them! Taiwanese Culture: Convenience Stores Similarly to convenience store culture in Japan, Taiwan’s convenience stores are nothing to scoff at. Practically every street has at least one store, the most common being Family Mart and 7-Eleven, which are open 24/7. In fact, Taiwan has the second highest convenience store density in the world! True to their name, you can conveniently buy surprisingly high quality meals, snacks, baked goods, and you can even pay with the local public transit pass. Not only that, but you can also: Buy hot foodPay parking tickets and other finesPay your taxesSend moneyAnd more! How did Taiwan’s convenience stores become so widespread? The first 7-Eleven opened in 1979, but only became a profitable business in 1986. Coincidentally, the Japanese Family Mart opened up in Taiwan in 1988 – around the same time when 7-Eleven became profitable in Taiwan. Other smaller convenience store chains followed soon after. Convenience stores became so prominent because they were firmly able to integrate into Taiwanese culture and daily life, and their services have only been expanding since. Taiwanese Culture: Night Markets Taiwan has a bustling night market culture. These markets are either permanent or temporary night-time popups, and attract large crowds of people who go to play games,...
The Italian language in Italy and worldwide: How many speakers?

The Italian language in Italy and worldwide: How many speakers?

How many people speak the Italian language all around the world? Italy has a total population of 60 million people and the official language is Italian. 61,860,418 people speak Italian as a native language. In addition, 16,957,243 people speak Italian worldwide as non-native speakers. What is the Italian language related to? Talking about the Italian language obviously takes you to stereotypes related to it. Let’s go over these together: “Italians are pizza and spaghetti eaters.” Yeah, that could be true. Italians eat pasta almost every day and pizza once a week, even if they are on a diet! “Italians talk with their hands.” It’s a scientific truth: everybody gesticulates to express themselves in a better way, but yes, let’s consider this stereotype true too. “Italians are loud.” No less than our Spanish, German and English neighbours! 😉 “Italians are always late.” It depends on the appointment. We’re hardly ever late for work. If it’s a meeting with friends, that’s another matter. “Italians drink espresso and cappuccino all day long.” INCORRECT. We meet for coffee to spend time with our loved ones. Cappuccino is only for breakfast, unlike other cultures. “Italians are disorganized.” Try telling that to my best friend. She is one of the most organized people I have ever known. And she managed to make me an organized person too! “Italians can’t speak English.” Of course, it’s not easy to get rid of our distinctive accent but that’s not true. At least, we try! 😊 Curious facts about the Italian language It derives from vernacular Latin (as opposed to ancient Latin). When Latin merged with the languages of...
Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World. How people celebrate it?

Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World. How people celebrate it?

How many Valentine’s Traditions do you know? Valentine’s Day, on February 14th, is the second-largest card-giving day of the year, just after Christmas! On that note, if you forgot to read about Christmas traditions, take a look here! As for Valentine’s, people celebrate it in many different ways around the world. How people celebrate lovers’ day? Let’s check it out! The History of Valentine’s Day Around the world, this day is celebrated in the name of Saint Valentine. But who was he? Saint Valentine lived during the 3rd century in Rome, under emperor Claudius II. Claudius thought that single men were better soldiers than married ones so he outlawed marriage for young soldiers. Valentine thought it was an injustice and started to perform secret wedding ceremonies for people upon request. When the emperor found out, he ordered his murder. Gradually, word spread about Valentine and couples all over the world started celebrating Valentine’s day as a day of love. Valentine’s Day in Argentina Argentinians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in February but during “the week of sweetness” in July. During this week, lovers exchange kisses and receive chocolates every day! We at LingoStar believe that exceptions and differences make the world an extraordinary place to live in! Don’t you? Lovers’ Day in France France is considered the country where Valentine’s Day originated, and the first Valentine’s Day card was sent. Moreover, on this day, people decorated yards, trees and homes with love cards, roses and proposals for marriage. Unquestionably, this is probably the most romantic tradition in the world! Lovers’ Day in South Korea In South Korea, people celebrate the day...
Superstitions in India: the fear of the unknown

Superstitions in India: the fear of the unknown

What is a Superstition? A superstition is a belief that is considered supernatural or irrational. Over the years there have been many superstitions that have developed and some are still present. In every country there are superstitions but they may come in different forms. For example, they can be related to a number, day, colour, animal, etc. Superstitions in India: In India there are a lot of superstitions which are believed as supernatural. So here are some of the most interesting ones: Shaking of legs: If a person’s legs shake continuously, they will be left with less wealth. Washing hair on Thursday: Thursday is considered a bad day for washing your hair. The reason again is fear of losing wealth. If you see a garbage truck: If you see a truck full of garbage before leaving your home, it means that your day will pass very well. However, if you see a garbage truck that is empty before leaving your home, it is considered bad and unlucky. More superstitions in India: Colour (White and Black): The colours white and black are not considered lucky for a new bride. She cannot wear these colours for a few months because it is considered a threat on their new relationship. Whereas, in developed countries, it is tradition for the bride to dress in a white gown for the wedding. Sneeze: If you are about to leave from your home for work, and someone sneezes, it is thought to be fear of the unknown. Something will go wrong on the way or the task will not be completed. Perfumes and colognes (fancy and...
“El mate”: a special bond created by yerba mate

“El mate”: a special bond created by yerba mate

More than a drink Just as British people religiously enjoy their 5 o’clock tea, some countries in the southern hemisphere share a very popular drink: “el mate.” This tea-like infusion (also known as chimarrão in Brazil) is made with yerba mate and is enjoyed by children and adults at any time of day. What’s more, it has been an integral part of the culture in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil for many years now. So, let’s learn a little more about this important drink. Origin of “el mate” and yerba mate Yerba mate was already being consumed long before the “new world” was discovered. Actually, it was the Guaraní people who inhabited parts of South America who introduced the plant to the European settlers. The settlers began to cultivate it and to make it well-known throughout the rest of the southern regions. Although the yerba mate cropping tradition almost disappeared when the Jesuits were expelled from the region, native people took over and transformed it into commercial harvesting. “El mate” is also related to the image of “el gaucho”, a popular cowboy-like figure from Argentina, Uruguay and the southern part of Brazil. El gaucho is commonly depicted as a horseman dressed in leather boots or espadrilles, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and baggy pants (bombacha), carrying a bola (best known as boleadora) or a long gaucho knife (facón). How to prepare “el mate” First of all, to start “el mate” we need the following things: Yerba mate –that is, the processed ground leaves of the yerba mate plant.A mate –that is, the receptacle where we’ll put the yerba mate....