Category Archives: Our Destinations

December 15, 2010

Gingerbread

Gingerbread is one of those deliciously international foods that appears in many countries around the holidays. It is rumored to have been introduced to Europe in 992 by a monk named Gregoire de Nikopolis, and today different variations can be found in Germany, Sweden, England, France, Poland, and many other countries.

The award for gingerbread enthusiasm, however, must go to the town of Bergen in Norway. Every year they build Pepperkakebyen, a town built entirely of gingerbread. It is tradition for every child under the age of 12 to contribute towards the event, and is believed to be the biggest gingerbread town in the world.

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For a great compilation of 15 Gingerbread cities around the world, check out MightyGirl’s recent post.

 

 

Although I love gingerbread my skills are not quite that advanced, so I think I’ll be sticking with this simple gingerbread house interpretations this year:

Picture 5

 

Want to make your own? You can find instructions for these here.

October 29, 2010

Dracula and Transylvania

transyl

Transylvania is a region in central Romania, nestled next the the Carpathian mountain range to the East and South. Dating back to the Roman empire, Transylvania has a rich history of battles, monarchies, and occupations. Despite its colorful past, in the USA Transylvania is known best for the myths of vampires, werewolves, and spirits that supposedly reside there.

In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a book he called Dracula. While stories of vampires had existed before the release of Dracula, the popularity of the novel pushed them into the mainstream through books, theater, and movies. But how based in fact are these stories of the world’s most famous vampire?

The name “Dracula” is rumored to have originated from Vlad the Impaler’s full name – Vlad III Dracula. Vlad III is heralded by Romanians as a hero for fighting off the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 13th century, but unfortunately killed thousands of civilians in the process. Bram Stoker came across stories of Vlad when researching Romania for his novel, and borrowed the name Dracula for his main character.

What about Dracula’s castle? Transylvania has many old castles, and there are three in debate as to which is “Dracula’s” castle – Poenari Castle, Hunyad Castle, and Bran Castle. Bran Castle is marketed as the most credible, partly due to the fact that Vlad the Impaler (Dracula’s namesake) used to use the castle as a base during battles. Wanting to experience some of the legend, many tourists visit Bran Castle in search of the story of Dracula.

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I always find it interesting to find out there is a little bit of truth, however tangential, in famous legends, particularly those of the spooky variety. Have a safe, fun, and happy Halloween!

October 6, 2010

Learn your Fruits and Vegetables in Romanian

Cards from Drenculture's Etsy Shop

Cards from Drenculture's Etsy Shop

Apple : Măr

Banana : Banană

Carrot : Morcov

Strawberry : Căpşune

Peaches : Piersici

Pepper : Ardei

Corn : Porumb

Pumpkin : Dovleac

Lettuce : Salată Verde

Pineapple : Ananas

Onion : Ceapă

Want to hear how the words are pronounced? Click here.

Interested in learning how to count to ten in Hungarian, or learn some animals in Croatian? Check out our other language posts from this season’s destination of Old World Hungary!

September 3, 2010

The Money Hat (and Other Hungarian Folk Tales)

money hat cover

The Money Hat and other Hungarian Folk Tales was another great library find I discovered recently. Containing 14 Folk Tales covering such characters as witches and noblemen, heroes and soldiers, farmers and peasants, this book’s creation is a story in itself. Gyuri Biro was born in Budapest, but fled with his family to Austria after Hungary’s 1956 revolution. Biro held countless careers during his lifetime, as a cartoonist, an actor, a bartender, a professional boxer, and a draftsman. He eventually settled in the USA where he met Peggy Hoffman, and recruited her to help him write down the Folk Tales he was told as a child.

Putting together a collection of stories that has been passed down orally through generations is no easy feat, but this book has a lightness and yet very genuine feel and the stories are a pleasure to read. As a cartoonist, Biro also did all of the original illustrations:

 

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The stories themselves are all a little too long to post here, but I highly recommend reading them. Most copies I’ve found have been at libraries as the book itself is out of print, but if you want to do further research it was published by Westminster Press in 1969.

* This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

September 1, 2010

Learn Your Animals in Croatian!

 

Art by Petit Collage

Art by Petit Collage

 

Slon  :  Elephant

Zmija  :  Snake

Cačak  :  Cat

Pas  :  Dog

Lav  :  Lion

Majmun  :  Monkey

Ovca  :  Sheep

Konj  :  Horse

Leptir  :  Butterfly

Sova : Owl

Sma :  Deer

Kurjak : Wolf

Jelen : Stag

Know them all? Play this fun game here!

Have you checked out our Sma, Kurjak, Sova, and Jelen clothes this season? :

collage

 

August 23, 2010

Croation Tales of Long Ago

Ivana

One of our readers and commenters recently told us about one of her favorite children’s book authors from Croatia – Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Although she passed away 1938 she is still considered to be one of Croatia’s most famous and well-loved writers for children. Born into a family of politicians and poets, Ivana homeschooled all six of her children, and became famous in 1913 for her book The Brave Adventures of Laptich. Croatian Tales of Long Ago was published in 1916 with huge success, which prompted Ivana’s nickname – “The Croatian Andersen” (in reference to Hans Christian Andersen). The stories are original, but reference characters and themes from traditional Slavic mythology.

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In 2002 and 2003 an animation artist named Helena Bulaja decided to adapt some of the Croatian Tales of Long Ago into a web animation project.  In her words: “The digital revolution, the Internet, and modern communications are on one side, and the world of fairytales on the other…the concept of the interactive book is so open, and unlike film, theatre, or illustration, it can take almost any form, it can be a film, an illustration, a game…”  The website is a little dated, but the animation is stunning, such as in Yagor below:

 

 

Yagor from Helena Bulaja on Vimeo.


This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

August 17, 2010

Land of Falling Lakes

I’ve wanted to visit Croatia ever since I saw the PBS special Land of Falling Lakes about Plitvice Lakes National Park.  I could barely believe such a majestic landscape actually existed.   Sixteen bright turquoise lakes are nestled in woodland-covered mountains, and are connected by waterfalls, caverns and bubbling streams.  Plitvice Lakes was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its “outstanding natural beauty.”
PlitviceLakeSpring
PlitviceLakes01PlitviceLakeAutumn
PlitviceLakeWinter
Spring photo (top) by Elliot Jenko
Summer photo (2nd from top) by Jack Brauer
Fall photo (3rd from top) found here
Winter photo (bottom) found here

The documentary takes you through the seasons of the park, teaches you about the land’s unique ecology and introduces you to many of its animal residents.  With fascinating explanations of animals and the landscape of the region, this documentary will appeal to all ages.

Stream the previewPurchase the DVDAdd it to your Netflix queue.  Or better yet, go visit.

August 13, 2010

Kati and Kormos

On a quest for children’s stories from Hungary, Romania, and Croatia, I found myself at the San Francisco Public Library:

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The Main Branch downtown is massive, with 6 stories of books, and an amazing Children’s Section. To my surprise I found piles and piles of folk tales from these regions, and thanks to a kind librarian, was able to look at some books from the Historical Archives, which are not loaned out to the public. The one which resonated the most for me in both illustration and content was Kati and Kormos, written by Anico Surany and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher:

kk cover

Kati Viszla is a prize-winning hunting dog who lived in a grand kennel on a huge estate in Hungary. She was happy, but lonely, as her owner Count Toldy was away often, and she spent most of her days inside a cage, and bored.

kk grass

Luckily one day she met Kormos Puli, a shaggy little sheepdog, and his owner Old Imne:

New Image

She learns to love a life of herding and not hunting, and abandons her life of lonely luxury for a life with good company.

kk fire

The illustrations are gorgeous in person. The tale is simple but the writing is wonderfully descriptive, and similar to Selma the Sheep, I find it conveys wisdom within its pages. The author Anico Surray is born of Hungarian ancestry, and owns a Viszla dog similar to Kati. Leonard Everett Fisher has an MFA from Yale, and has illustrated over 100 kids books, including 11 of his own.

Published by Holiday House Press in 1966, copies of this book are not very easy to find, but Amazon has a few for sale here.

This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

August 11, 2010

Count to Ten in Hungarian!

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(artwork by Binth)

1   Egy

2   Kettö (két before a noun)

3   Három

4   Négy

5   Öt

6   Hat

7   Hét

8   Nyolc

9   Kilenc

10   Tíz

Want to double-check your memorization? Take this little quiz here!

Interested in the phonetics of the Hungarian alphabet? Check out this handy chart here.

July 29, 2010

Croatians love soccer

Hajduk Split is a Croatian football club, one of the most popular in the country. If you had World Cup fever like we did here at Tea, you learned that the whole world calls soccer “football.” Croatia is one of the countries where they spell it “fotbal”.

Their bold graphics really scored with us.

Photograph by Mandy Loncar

Learn more about the team on one of their Facebook fan pages.

Check out some of the Old World Hungary products the Split Hajduk graphics inspired:

Football Jersey Polo

Football Stripe Hoodie

And if you want to play soccer, a great resource is the American Youth Organization where everyone plays. GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLL!