Saved By The Jingle Bells

Christmas lights everywhere! (click to see larger)Did your high school have bells to announce the beginning and ending of classes?  Mine didn’t.  That turned my high school career into four years of chaos.

If you don’t have a bell, you don’t know when class starts.  Standing in the hallway, you talk with your friends about the most important issues in the world (what else could you possibly converse about during this period of your life?).  Suddenly, someone realizes that class started five minutes ago.

This is why high school prepared me for a career as a Hollywood stuntman (a dream that I have yet to realize).  We would grab our bags and dash through the school at full speed.  No obstacle, including a brick wall or a threatening teacher, was too great to stop us.  Finally, we would lurk into class with a shameful, sweat-covered face.

At this point, the other side of the spectrum becomes apparent - the teacher didn’t notice the time either.  He or she was sitting at their desk finishing something or getting ready to start the lesson, and the rest of the students were in their seats chatting away.

All the stores and restaurants are decorated, too. (click to see larger)The same thing was a curse for the end of class.  Sitting at your desks, the teacher caught up in the lesson, the clock would tick away.  Someone would have a heart attack and announce we were late, and kids would try to dash from their chairs while the teacher barked out orders for homework.

It was chaos, and I loved it.

These events are now missing from my life.

Both schools that I’ve taught at in Hungary have bells.  They ring at the start and finish of every lesson, and my current school has a different tone two minutes before the beginning.  This means there isn’t any sneaking around.

Lights in the shape of... lights. Creative. (click to see larger)If a student is late, everyone knows.  If a teacher is late, everyone knows.  If a class gets out early, everyone knows.  If the teacher tries to trick the class into thinking there’s more time, everyone knows.

As interesting as this all is, what does it have to do with the current time period?  Something very important.  It’s well known that people like to decorate places around Christmas, but I’ve never heard of sounds being used as a decoration.  Until now.

The bells have changed this month.  The sound signaling the end of class is Jingle Bells, the start of class is some stupid non-Christmas song like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and I can’t remember the two-minute warning bell, but I think it is Christmas related.  I guess I should’ve thought this through more, but I didn’t.

Tomorrow, when it’s time to leave work, imagine that an electronic rendition of Jingle Bells is your notification.  No need for a watch or someone to tell you, just this song.  Does this put you in the Christmas spirit?  Or does it make you want to hitchhike with Santa so you can get as far away from your job as possible?

 I know it's not a real bell, but it's close enough. (click to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:


Pronounced “Cheh-n-goo” – kind of.  This is a hard one to explain because there isn’t really anything that rhymes with “chen”, but it’s pretty close to how you’d imagine.  As far as the “ő” sound goes, the English language doesn’t have anything that compares to it.  It’s hard enough to say, and much more challenging to explain.  Oh yeah, the important part – the word means “bell”.