January 13, 2007

Episode XI: Silent night


Winter for real arrived to Kaohsiung in the third week of December. Now I can understand why people here wear very warm clothes, including hats, scarves and gloves. Frankly speaking, I was a bit surprised with such a harsh weather conditions. Strong winds and very cold evenings. I would never expect that on the tropic. Hopefully it will not last long because I already miss sunny mornings and kind light that touches my eyes and face every time I stare at the sky. I will welcome spring with open arms and heart.
Winter and Christmas time are inseparable things in Poland as in most of European countries I believe. It is like, Jon-chio Wuye-bin, Mid-autumn festival and moon-cakes here in Taiwan. Christmas tree occupies honorary spot in the main room of every home, where all the family gathers and celebrates those warm and happy days. It is always splendidly decorated with lights and glass balls.

Traditionally during Christmas Eve, on the 24th of December, in Polish house there should be twelve separate dishes on the table. Nowadays, not many people can afford that, but some still follow this unique custom. Common and expected dishes are mushroom soup, chicken broth or beetroot soup, fried fish, most popular is carp, also herring in cream and onions or simply in oil. Famous bigos, which is savory stew cabbage and meat. Pierogi – something that reminds dumplings.
Old beautiful Polish tradition says that there should be one extra plate on the Christmas table. It is waiting for so-called unexpected pilgrim who is supposed to knock at the door and ask for shelter. He should be greeted with all honesty. Disinterested help symbolizes Christian way of life, a sacrifice we are ready to make for the others.

In Taiwan, as a country where nine of ten people are Buddhist, Confucian or Taoist, society does not celebrate Christmas as I am used to do it. Decorations and presents are not the only things that make this time special and important. There will be no days off from work, but with my bunch of friends from all over the world, I will try to create the atmosphere which is going to make us feel like home a bit.
After the Christmas there will be only a few days left of the old year 2006. According to Chinese lunar calendar, it’s a year of the dog, which is a year of my birthday, to be honest. At the moment we are approaching a year of the pig. Hopefully 2007 is going to be very fortunate to all of you.

What can I add more? Don’t eat too much. Don’t drink too much. Be good to the others and remain passionate.

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