When teaching, I like to stick to a topic. It's fun for the students, it keeps things organized, and I get funny stories out of it. The last one's the best part - the funny stories are one of my favorite joys in life.
This month's theme is Christmas. It's worked pretty well because decorations are coming up all around us, and it's a happy topic. Well, it's usually a happy topic.
Today I asked one of my classes if they will be going anywhere for their holiday break. They all responded that they wouldn't, but most said they'd be spending it with family. Okay, do all of your families live around Békéscsaba?
A hand shot up in the air.
It was one of the girls who doesn't usually volunteer to talk, but when she does, she gets really into it. This was one of those times. Her story went something like this:
"A lot of my relatives live in Slovakia. We like to see them but we don't visit them at Christmas time. During this holiday they sing many songs that have a lot of national pride, and we are not welcome because we are Hungarian. So we usually visit them before or after Christmas. We just saw them in November."
Oh. I didn't expect that.
I know and understand that there are a lot of strong nationalistic feelings in many European countries because of their long history and close proximity to one another. However, this was something I didn't see coming.
First, I didn't know there was a problem between Hungarians and Slovakians. I was under the impression they were on good terms with each other. I guess I need to re-examine that relationship.
Second, I would've guessed Christmas was more of a religious holiday, and less of a national holiday. It seemed logical that these differences would be set aside for a short time. Perhaps this (unknown) animosity runs too deep.
Third, do they still have to give presents to each other? I have some friends who, after reading this, will probably make their relatives move to Slovakia. My friends, of course, will join me in Hungary. It's tradition.
Hungarian phrase of the day:
Pronounced Bowl-dough-g Ker-ats-own-eet. It means Merry Christmas. This is what you can say to your relatives at Christmas time (as long as they don't live in Slovakia).