Monday, December 15, 2003

I am teaching Christmas lessons all week. Quickly I am learning what traditions we share with Italians and which seem foreign to them:

They don't have Christmas songs popping up on the radio every year (The main character in Nick Hornby's About A Boy lives on the royalties from a Christmas song; the lucrative nature of airplay every twelve months was an astute observation by Hornby). On the surface this looks like a good thing but, lets face it, nobody plays the real crap anymore (Mr. Blobby); just the (half-)decent stuff. Frankly, Fairytale Of New York is so good it's reason enough to justify Christmas songs all on its own.

They don't have Christmas crackers. Unquestionably, this is a good thing. Who wants to wear a paper hat, tell bad jokes and pretend a tiny plastic comb is of any use to them?

They don't really have mistletoe. A pity.

Like all lessons, the students pay most attention when I'm talking about food. They like the sound of Christmas pudding and mulled wine. So do I.

Many of them don't know the Italian word for tinsel. It's true that I haven't seen much of it. It seems that although there are certainly decorations around town they don't seem to be going at all over-the-top with it all. Their tasteful sense of aesthetics wins the day.

They don't eat turkey for Christmas (mind you, neither do I; I don't eat any meat. I'll be writing an essay about that over the holidays). There doesn't seem to be a traditional Christmas meal here: some of my students are reporting that they eat fish, some horsemeat, some pork,... whatever really.

I'm sure I'd be sick of the never-ending, over-hyped build-up if I was at home. But instead I'm looking forward to it all. Mind you, I could be very tired of Do They Know It's Christmas? by the end of the week: I've heard it six times today. My students love it; one group asked today if I could play it again so they could sing along. I'm looking forward to the advanced groups when I can play Fairytale Of New York and ask them to decipher Shane McGowan's drunken slurs. I wish them luck.

Comments: Post a Comment