Cultural letter #9 Winter Wonderland
I thought I'd take a few minutes to clue you in on winter here and an experience or two.
(These observations are taken from my direct experiences/conversations with people.)
Winter weather: Usually there are one or two weeks where the temperatures get quite cold. Most of the rest of the winter it hovers around freezing. The end result is that often in January it looks like "spring break up" in
On Thursday late afternoon, Jeremiah and I were slipping and sliding our way to school in the dark to pick up
New Year's Eve: They let off a lot of fireworks, often starting about . Fireworks are legal to buy and use here. This year, with some new neighbors who apparently like to do this, we had a 20 minute show almost in our front yard. (The only problem was, we were in bed!) :) A year ago we had only about 3 minutes' worth at . We found quite a bit of residue of fireworks in our yard on New Year's Day. No store that I saw was open on New Year's Day. I tried to go to the local-little-store-that-is-always open--even-on-Christmas--to get something and it wasn't open, though I saw two people try the doors to the store in the less than one minute that I was in their parking lot. It was very quiet everywhere. Children went back to school on January 2. However,
Christmas Decorations: For the average American, the first of January brings the end of the decorations and official end of the Christmas season. However, here, many people keep their trees up til some time in February. There is another holiday around Feb. 5 which signals the end of the season to many people. One person told me if the needles will stay on, they may even leave their tree up until March. The normal time for putting it up is Dec. 24 where it is included with their Christmas Eve/Day festivities. I think that many people put them up on Saturday the 23rd this year since the 24th was a Sunday. Yesterday or today was "Three Kings Day" and another holiday, though not officially one--another friend told me that this signals the end of the tree for them. (This information was all taken from Catholic neighbors/friends.)
Winter holiday: Each year the children/young people get out of school for 2 weeks to give them a chance to take a winter holiday. As I understand it, if the parents have school age children, their boss is supposed to/try to/ give them off during these two weeks also. (I can understand how a "winter break" is much more practical for a holiday than a "spring break" as the weather is usually a bit more predictable during late Jan/early Feb. than it is in March/April.) During this time many people will go skiing down in the southern part of
Darkness: At the height of winter, it gets dark around and doesn't get light in the morning til about . The day lengths change rapidly, though--several minutes a day as we work ourselves into spring. Most winter days are rather grey and ugly, with a few, bright, beautiful days sprinkled in. It is law that everyone use their headlights all the time from Nov. 1 through March 1.
That's all for now. Have a great winter day!