In English

Easter around the world

In England
In many parts of England dancers called “Morris dancers” perform on Easter Sunday. These dances are very old spring dances to frighten away the veil spirits of winter. The dancers wear white shorts, red sashes, black trousers and straw hats with lots of flowers and streamers. Red and green ribbons and little bells are tied onto the dancers. As the dancers move quickly the bells ring and the ribbons wave.

In Australia
The Australians prefer the Bilby as the symbol for Easter as it is native to Australia and also because of the fact that the rabbit has destroyed land, crops, vegetation and burrows of other native Australian species.

In Canada
In Quebec City, they hold a carnival known as the Winter Carnival which has a big parade and special sporting events such as skating, skiing, and tobogganing.

In Ireland
In Ireland, people dance in the streets on Easter Sunday. The dancers compete for the prize of a cake. In that country, Easter is a very sacred time of fasting and prayer. On Easter Saturday at church hundreds of small candles are lit off the Paschal candle that has been blessed by the priest. On Easter Sunday a quiet meal is eaten at home. Traditional Easter meal of leek soup and roasted spring lamb.

Good Friday was an extremely solemn day in Ireland. Most people eat nothing at all until midday, and went about barefoot. No one killed animals, no wood was burned or made into things, and no nail was driven. No one is aloud to move house, or begin any important enterprise. No one fishes. Eggs that are laid on Good Friday were marked with a cross, and everybody ate at least one of these eggs on Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday people eat large quantities of eggs. Eggs are often dyed or decorated and egg rolling used to be a favorite pastime.

In Scotland
Easter is a very important day in the Church of Scotland. In many parts of Scotland huge fires used to be lit on Easter Saturday, a tradition that dates back to the pagan era when spring festivals were held at this time.

In United States of America
Easter in the US is celebrated in many different ways by many different religions. Mostly it is celebrated with traditional church services and family festive celebrations. On Easter Sunday in New York and other cities, large street parades are held where people show off their new clothes and Easter bonnets. The parade is often led by someone carrying a candle or a cross.  Easter is a time to eat special foods. In US it is baked ham, potatoes and vegetables. In the US at Easter Hot Cross Buns are served as well.

In Wales
In Wales Palm Sunday is called Flowering Sunday, and families traditionally visit the graves of their relatives to lay flowers on the graves. On this day they also have famous Welsh singing contests which are known as Gymansa Ganu. Choirs from various chapels in the area come together to take part in these festivals, and at these festivals special conductors are invited.

In Brazil
In Brazil every year since 1950 the village of Fazenda has performed a passion play. Thousands of people watch as volunteers act out the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Holy Week in Brazil begins with the blessing of the palm branches, which are woven in intricate patterns representing crosses, banners, letters, and other related objects.


Celebrating Independence Day

Posted on July 4, 2011 by vbaumhardt

Brazil’s Independence Day (7 September) is a national holiday commemorated by military and school parades, especially in each of the country’s state capitals. In the United States, Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 and is also a national holiday.

However, this date appears to be much more important for Americans. As the holiday falls during the summertime there, many people organize family gatherings with parties, picnics and outdoor barbecues. Many parties feature decorations in the form of balloons and streamers in the colors of the American flag: red, white and blue. Public events include parades during the morning and firework displays at night. In some cities there are also fairs, concerts, baseball matches, etc.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of decoration used in the US for the Fourth of July…

… and a recipe

Potato salad with lime

–  1.5kg potatoes
– 1 cup celery, sliced
–  ½ cup mayonnaise
–  ¼ cup green onion, chopped
–  1 teaspoon lime zest
–  2 tablespoons lime juice
–  1 teaspoon sugar
–  1 teaspoon salt
–  ½ teaspoon black pepper

Boil the potatoes for roughly 20 minutes. During this time, use a deep bowl to combine the chopped green onion, the lime zest and lime juice, and the sugar, salt and black pepper. Drain the potatoes and leave to stand until cool, then add to the bowl, mixing thoroughly.

What to drink with it:
Artezin Mendocino
Zinfandel ’07 or
Château de Chamirey
Mercurey Rouge ’07

Annual festivals

Posted on March 10, 2011 by vbaumhardt

Carnival is recognized in many parts of the world beside Brazil. In the United States, the festival is mainly celebrated in New Orleans (Louisiana).

There, the high point of the festivities is Mardi Gras, which takes place on the Tuesday of Carnival. In the two weeks beforehand, both residents and visitors enjoy the countless parades with their colorful floats carrying performers in fancy dress who throw confetti into the boisterous crowds. The party goes on into the night with traditional New Orleans music, and food reflecting the strong French heritage of the region.

Mardi Gras began in Louisiana as a celebration organized by French colonists. The first recorded festival took place in 1699.

Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday), on the other hand, is a tradition observed in English-speaking countries, especially the United Kingdom and [Northern Ireland is part of the UK – do you mean the Republic of Ireland?]. Shrove Tuesday falls before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, historically a time of fasting and prayer for Catholics. For this reason, on the day before the fasting period began, people would use all the sugar, butter and eggs they had available to make delicious pancakes.

Pancake Day is celebrated with fun, games, and obviously lots of food. The best-known activity is the Pancake Day Race, which has been held in Olney, Buckinghamshire since the year 1445.

It all started when a woman was cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday so as to use up all the perishable goods in her kitchen before the start of Lent. While she was still cooking, she heard the bell ringing to summon people to church. Not wanting to be late, the woman ran to church wearing her apron – and carrying a frying pan still containing a pancake. Little did she know that she was starting a tradition that would go on for over 500 years!

Only women may take part in the competition. They must run, frying pan in hand, along a predetermined route leading to the church. Their frying pans must contain a hot pancake, which must be tossed at least three times before the end of the competition. The first woman to finish the race and get to the church with her pancake is considered the winner. She then serves the pancake to the bell-ringer and receives a kiss from him as a reward. This is known as the “kiss of peace”. Similar races are still held throughout England and in other countries.

General João Telles

Posted on January 18, 2011 by vbaumhardt

Our school is located in the neighborhood of Bom Fim – to be precise, in the rua General João Telles – General João Telles Street.

It is very important that we know a little about the historical importance and life of our street’s patron. João Batista da Silva Telles was a Brazilian soldier who was born in Porto Alegre on February 9, 1844, and died on December 24, 1893.

His parents were Joaquim da Silva Telles and Maria Joaquina Amália da Cunha. He married Francisca de Mesquita, the daughter of the Baron of Cacequi.

He began his military career in 1864 at the age of 20, and soon afterwards was sent to take part in the Paraguayan War, serving until the end of the conflict and rising to the rank of captain after being wounded several times.

João Telles was one of the rebels who lent their support to the Proclamation of the Republic. By this time he was commander of the 1st Cavalry Regiment in Rio de Janeiro. He later rose to command of the entire 2nd Brigade, replacing General José de Almeida Barreto e de Lobo Botelho.

During the Federalist Revolution, he fought against insurgents on the Governor’s Island. He was wounded in an ambush on December 14, and died of his injuries ten days later.

Today, the street which bears the General’s name is home to some of the most popular establishments among artists, musicians, intellectuals and other members of Porto Alegre’s cultural scene:

The Ocidente Bar – Located right on the corner of João Telles and the avenida Osvaldo Aranha, this is a charming place to visit. At lunchtimes from Monday to Saturday, Ocidente is a vegetarian restaurant, serving food of the highest quality, with a very varied range of dishes accompanied by organic salads. On Tuesday evenings it plays host to the Sarau Elétrico. On other nights the locale serves as one of the city’s most famous nightclubs.

The Odessa Bar and Pizzeria – An unmissable night spot with indoor and outdoor service, Odessa is always filled to capacity outside as well as inside. The pizza is among the best in the city, to say nothing of the ice-cold beer.

Café da Oca – As well as boasting a beautiful and spacious interior, the Café da Oca is open all day, and is always a perfect place to have lunch, to chat with friends over a coffee during the day, or to meet up in the early evening. For the last year, the cafe has provided the venue for our weekly English meetings. What we offer is very simple: anyone interested in practicing their English is welcome to join us.

And between Ocidente and the Café da Oca, you can see the Barão Hirsch building, the location of our school. In our English and Portuguese for Foreigners classes we aim to satisfy the individual needs and interests of our students. Come and pay us a visit to find out more about how we work. There are countless reasons to feel at home in our street, one of the most cosmopolitan in Porto Alegre.

Thanksgiving Day

Posted on December 7, 2010 by vbaumhardt

Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Day) is a holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada as an expression of gratitude, generally to God, for the good things which have happened during the year.

On this day, people give thanks with parties and religious prayer.

United States and Canada

The first Thanksgiving Days in New England were festivals of gratitude to God in recognition of plentiful annual harvests. For this reason, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the fall, after the harvest has been gathered in. In the United States it is observed on the last Thursday in November, and in Canada, on the Monday of the second week in October.

In the United States as well as Canada, people generally take advantage of the holiday to spend time with their families, organizing parties and dinners.

It is also a day which many people dedicate to religious reflection, church services and prayer.

Thanksgiving is also celebrated with large parades, and with football games in the United States. The main dish eaten at Thanksgiving is turkey, which lends the holiday its nickname, “Turkey Day”.

As the study of the English language is our main focus at the school, for the last three years we have held a Thanksgiving party too.

It’s a time to offer thanks for the good things which have happened during the course of the year, and also provides the opportunity for our students to get to know each other better.

The neighborhood of Bom Fim

Posted on December 6, 2010 by vbaumhardt

The origins of the neighborhood of Bom Fim date back to the old Campo da Várzea (something like “Meadowfield” in English), a public area of 69 hectares which served as both a camping ground for cart drivers and a pasture for the herds of cattle which fed the city.

The Campo da Várzea became the Campo do Bom Fim with the construction of the Capela do Senhor do Bom Fim (Chapel of Our Lord of the Good Ending), begun in 1867 and completed in 1872. The name of the small church came by extension to be used as a designation for the whole district. Until 1930 the avenida Osvaldo Aranha (Osvaldo Aranha Avenue), one of the distinctive landmarks of the neighborhood, was known as the avenida Bom Fim.

Until the end of the 19th century, there were no great changes in the area. A small number of old houses and some farms sprang up. The rest of the district, according to chroniclers such as Ary Veiga Sanhudo, “was good scrubland, with excellent game, where runaway slaves found safe refuge on countless occasions”. Following Abolition many freed slaves, having nowhere else to go, settled in the area, which came to be called by the unofficial name “Campo de Redenção” – “Redemption Field”.

Around the end of the 1920s, the first members of the Jewish community began to settle along the avenida Bom Fim. A number of residences, small shops and workshops appeared, eventually leading to the establishment of a permanent community in the neighborhood. The diversification of this small marketplace kept pace with the natural growth of the city, so that Bom Fim eventually emerged as an important residential and commercial area, noted today for its sophisticated furniture shops and the traditional José Bonifácio flea market.

Moacyr Scliar nostalgically draws a comparison between this “real” neighborhood, still characterized by a bohemian and intellectual way of life, and the “mythical” neighborhood: the Bom Fim of the first Jewish immigrants – of his childhood.

Despite the diversity of its present-day residents, Bom Fim remains a symbol of Jewish settlement in Porto Alegre.

From Porto Alegre: crônicas de minha cidade, p.108.
(Luciano Ávila)


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