The Christmas time is traditionally finishing with the celebrations of January 6th.
In some countries this day is even a public and religious holiday.
The Christian church celebrates the arrival of the three kings to see and adore the newborn Jesus.
Coming from Italy and living in Switzerland, I (and especially the kids) can “celebrate” in two different ways, following different popular customs.
The Italian tradition says that in the night of January 6th an old woman, a kind of witch (called in Italian “Befana”) comes and brings sweets to the good children and coal to the bad ones. In order to get these presents, the kids have to hang an empty sock in the living room, which this old woman eventually fills in overnight…
This year the children got a lot of chocolates from “Befana”. And I can finally say that they deserved them!
The Swiss tradition (Unfortunately in our Canton, Argovia, January 6th is not a public holiday) celebrates this day by eating the so-called three king sweet bread.
All the main supermarkets sell it… or you should even bake it at home, if you can. The bread is sold in a package with a golden crown… Inside one of the pieces of this bread a very small figurine (2-3 cm) of one of the three kings is carefully hidden. The person who finds this miniaturised king (if he or she does not break the teeth) can happily wear the golden crown!
This year I was the lucky one! I was almost swallowing the small king, but I fortunately realised that it would have been better to save it from an inglorious and pathless travel into my bowel!
The pumpinks are smiling also in Switzerland in the night of Halloween!
It should be certainly a trick, rather than a treat…
… especially if you think that one of the most American “celebrations” is very popular also in the Confederation, where the USA are not so beloved and it is very rare to find someone not blaming the US for something!
Last Saturday the sun was shining really strong and we decided to drive down to Canton Graubünden, very famous mainly for its ski resorts.
We actually aimed at the Fashion Outlet in Landquart. A nice place, just besides the mountains, where you can walk among various buildings with many shops.
Inside the outlet you feel like everywhere or nowhere… it’s like an international location: when you are here you might be in many other places which all look similar.
But still the landscape reminds you that you are in the nice Confederation.
We spent a good time, we spent some money and we took a warm sun (for free)!
By the way, very near this fashion resort, you can find the so-called “Heidi village” (Heididorf): Meienfeld!
Unfortunately we could not visit the place, but keep in mind: Meienfeld is the location which gave the inspiration to the writer Johanna Spyri for her Heidi “epic”!
Fortunately at that time there was no outlet in these surroundings, otherwise maybe “The Devil wears Prada” would have been created, instead of the cute story of the little girl who is friend with the sheep and the mountains!
This morning, while accompanying my daughters to school, I noticed a new glorious temporary installation: his majesty, the speed radar!
“It” was proudly watching the internal street of our village, to check any possible car driving faster than 30 km/h! Right decision: no car will put small children in danger any longer.
Call “it” as you wish, but as a matter of fact, the horrendous radar / speed trap / camera / big red eye is a real institution in the Confederation! Exactly like chocolate, watch, bank, cheese fondue and mountain.
And “it” is also a great money collector for the public administration, whenever some car falls under its claws.
I was so impressed and frightened by this steel policeman, that I almost wanted to modestly introduce myself to “it” and, bowing, already leave “it” a small monetary contribution…
Today we visited the Historisches Museum (Historical museum) of Baden.
Despite the serious name, it is a very interesting museum, giving a great overview of Baden, the small town not so far from Zurich, where the former BBC (now the industrial multinational ABB!) has its historical headquarters. From the Roman times (2nd century B.C.) until our times!
Within a four floor former noble house/castle, this museum shows the way of leaving from the middle ages until the recent past…
And finally a big great exhibition floor presents other interesting things including ancient Roman treasures, various models and maps of Baden through the centuries, technical findings…
This museum provides also the kids (but not only!) with a lot of fun.
At the ground floor you have two “stages” with a lot of theatrical clothes and costumes you can really wear to take pictures in a “belle epoque” scenery. If you like the shooting, you can send the photos (rigorously black and white!) to your personal e-mail! This is for sure one of the best “active” part of the museum.
The kids, in addition, can find a lot of shrines, like the ones of the pirate stories, full of different objects, helping them to understand the museum across all the four floors of the exhibition. Finally, in the “modern” section, you can also try some moving machines or models explaining special topics.
Baden: a small countryside town, famous thermal location since the ancient Romans and cradle of one of the biggest industrial group in the world, ABB.
It is worth a visit, like, for sure, its historical museum.
Last weekend my wife and I went to the mountains to Stoos (Canton Schwyz) to bring our two small daughters to get ski lessons for the first time!
Nothing special, you would say, apart from a nice family reminder.
Actually we did establish a record, and even a world record!
We reached the top (Stoos village) by the steepest funicular railway of the world!
This amazing “vehicle” had been just inaugurated on the 16th December 2017.
It looks like a futuristic spaceship, like the strangest of the roller coasters. Nevertheless, thanks to the automatic level compensation of the four cabins, even if you drive almost vertically, your feet are always well in contact with the floor.
Here some figures of this terrific engineering masterpiece:
110% incline (World record!);
47° maximum slope;
1500 passengers per direction of travel per hour;
3-5 minutes’ travel time;
744 elevation gain;
1’740 m distance between the valley and the mountain stations;
34 passengers per cabin;
14 years needed to complete this work, from planning to realisation.
This is another surprising example of “Swiss made”, which makes the white crossed Confederates so proud!
Photo from huffingtonpost.it (source: Instagram).
What a shame, little Switzerland!
The embarrassing sign, written by the manager of an apartment hotel in Arosa, inviting the “Jewish” guests to take shower before and after the swimming pool, is travelling with the news all over the world! And it even provoked official complaints from Israel.
The word “Jewish”, the specification of which Jewish persons are meant (really all, no distinction: women, men, children!) and the threatening order really sound discriminating, offensive, scary and racist.
It is too easy and late now, Ms Hotel Manager, to say that you carelessly didn’t choose the right words for your scary sign.
It would have been probably better just to say “sorry” to all the guests: Women, men, children… Jewish and not!
Picture from www.pinterest.de
Last week I had the yearly meeting with the kindergarten teacher of my elder daughter.
Every year, near the end of the year, the teacher gives feedback and scores to the behaviour, activities, progress of the kids.
I was pleased for the nice feedback, but my energies were already all directed towards the… mysterious topic!
And so finally I came to the million dollars’ question: Why (the hell, but this I did not speak out loud) the kids cannot eat bananas during their break in the kindergarten?
The teacher seemed a little surprised for this “nutritional” question, but she immediately understood!
OK, to make it short, a dental specialist sometimes visits the kindergarten to teach the kids how to clean their teeth properly and inform them on other matters somehow related to orthodontics, including “healthy” and tooth-friendly food.
Apparently, as the teacher reported, banana tends to stuck and melt in between the teeth, due to its soft texture. This might increase the risk for caries.
I don’t know whether it was because of the heat of the day or the astonishment for such piece of information, but I remained still, like stunned, for some seconds.
I never heard someone condamn bananas in such a way, being banana still a recognised very healthy fruit!
But this is it!
The mystery is solved by now.
But it probably needs a follow-up!
As far as I know, there are many other fruits which can stick, stuck, glue themselves between small teeth, but they have not been softly “banned” by the kindergarten dental consultant!
Is this just racism against bananas or maybe the dental consultant absolutely hates… minions??
(See also my previous post “The banana mystery in the Kindergarten”: https://geoch1.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/the-banana-mystery-in-the-kindergarten/)
A big question mark has stuck in my head since yesterday.
I’m gonna tell you a real mystery, something which is fully out of any common human comprehension.
Every day my 5 years’ old daughter, when she goes to the Kindergarten, shall bring a small snack for the mid-morning break.
This normally means fruit and something crunchy like bread, crackers, etc.
Quite easy, right?
Yesterday I was in charge of preparing her small box and I gave her some slices of banana…
When she was back home, we found the same untouched banana slices. Strange! My daughter normally likes bananas. Which kid wouldn’t like this fruit?
With curiosity I asked for details and I found out that the teacher does not allow the kids to eat bananas!!!
I could not get the real reason though…
I was quite astonished and even a little upset. Bananas are apparently forbidden, but other kinds of well-known unhealthy food, like sausages, are welcome in the kindergarten or even in the nursery and are often the delicacy of the day!!
I’m still not sure about the background of this “banana ban”.
But I shall go on investigating, because I’m actually going bananas with this banana matter!
… How not to in such case?????
A flyer was spread in front of the school of a neighbouring village by the school director.
Two men driving a white van tried to “invite” a boy on their van and bring him home…
For sure accepting that invitation would have been very dangerous!
Fortunately the boy shouted and run away.
All the parents of the surrounding villages (including us) received somehow the flyer…it started circulating in a very fast way.
Everyone was worried.
Calling the law:
The police was informed by the school of their initiative of distributing such flyer.
Reaction of the police:
As reported by the Aargauer Zeitung (http://www.aargauerzeitung.ch/aargau/zurzach/wollten-zwei-maenner-einen-buben-entfuehren-kantonspolizei-aargau-warnt-vor-hysterie-130589868), the main newspaper of Canton Argovia), the official speaker of the Kantonspolizei Aargau stated that it is important to report such cases to the parents, school and finally to the police, BUT there is no need to become too fearful!
– every year 60-80 similar events occur…
– in the last 20 years no kid was kidnapped in the Canton…
– once a girl simulated a similar event not to go to school…
– often people with mental problems (not necessarily dangerous) are approaching the kids in that way…
“BUT it is not necessary to become too fearful”.
As you see… there is something Swiss… something skeptical in all of this, isn’t it?
How would have the police reacted in your country? What would have the police done in your country?
In this case there should be no BUT!
That sense of confidence that let Swiss think that, just because we are in the Confederation, nothing bad can happen…
This is quite SCARY!