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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Belgium
PostPosted: 07 Dec 2011, 19:07 
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Thank you, Santa! I'm still enjoying this a lot.

I'm also enjoying my advent calendar with the different puzzles every day!

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Belgium
PostPosted: 08 Dec 2011, 17:21 
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I'm glad that you're still enjoying your advent calendar, Joey! I do hope that all of this travelling isn't tiring you too much?

The next performance was Thora Helgerson, a prefect at the school who was large, jolly and always to be relied upon. Although she was at the school because of her mother's stay at the San, she had determined to make the best of things and it was easy to forget the shadow that hung over her life. There was no thought of this today, however, for her father had made a special effort to come and attend the play and she intended to do him proud.

After racking her brains for some time, she had found a way to manufacture a costume somewhat different to any other, for which ingenuity the mistresses had been pleased and surprised in equal measure. Thus it was that up the aisle trotted, to much amusement, a goat. A large papier mache head complemented a grey suit with goats trotters over hands and clogs on feet to make the required noise. Thora had been tempted to make goat noises as she went, but after one attempt she had been dissuaded by the horrified faces of the other prefects.

“Welcome to Norway!” she beamed, taking her place on centre stage. The head had been craftily manufactured to sit on her own head, so that she could still speak easily. “I am Julebukk, Thor's goat.”

She began to prance around on the stage, and suddenly entered her death throes, collapsing on the floor and kicking feebly a couple of times. Then, slowly, she rose again, and as she sat up she broke into song. The traditional Norwegian carol which she had chosen needed only a simple piano air for backing, and Mr Denny played well, so that as she awoke to life she floated across the stage in a rather ethereal manner.

Once she was feeling well again, Thora turned to her audience and beamed. This simple little act had been intended to prevent monotony of speech, and it was clear that those watching had appreciated it.

“A large part of Norwegian celebrations are the food,” she explained, her goat's head moving up a down a little as she spoke. “On Christmas eve we all come together to share a large meal, which can consist of many dishes. This may be lye-treated codfish, pinnekjoett served with carrots, potatoes and swedes or ribbe with potatoes, carrots, surkaal, prunes, cabbage a la norvegienne and brown sauce. For dessert we enjoy cherry mousse, caramel pudding, rice and whipped cream with a red sauce or whipped cream with multer.

“We also have many traditional cakes which we can choose to make, such as smultringer, rosettbakels, julekake, delfiakake or kokosmakroner.

“On Christmas eve we all hope to receive a visit from Julenissen, Santa Claus, bringing his gifts. But, following the tradition of Thor and his goat, we may also celebrate julebukk where children will go from house to house, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, asking for sweets. It is a time for celebrating both Christmas and the many new traditions and the old, Viking traditions which are so much a part of our heritage.”

Towards the end of her speech, Thora had managed to single her father out from the crowd, and suddenly memories of past Christmas times at home, with her whole family around her, came back to her, so that she had to swallow a lump in her throat. She was accustomed to controlling herself, however, and managed to bob a little courtesy, so that her goat's head surveyed them all critically, before leaving the stage.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Norway
PostPosted: 08 Dec 2011, 17:49 
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Secret Santa wrote:
I do hope that all of this travelling isn't tiring you too much?


Not at all. Armchair travelling is interesting, not tiring!

I'm learing a lot about Christmas in other lands. Although, when I have a spare half hour, I'll have to see if I can find English language recipes or descriptions of some of those Norwegian dishes. So tantalising!

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Norway
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2011, 12:32 
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I asked my head chef elf if he could possibly spare his Norwegian recipies for you, Joey, but unfortunately he is finding life rather stressful at the moment and simply threw me out with dire threats about a rolling pin and my person were I to return. I can, however, offer you some links about Norwegian Christmas food: this is a good overview of the Norwegian Christmas fare, this looks like a good place to go for translated recipies, though not specifically Christmas food, and here is a Norwegian cookie recipie. This site looks particularly exciting and helpful! I am sure that you can find many other websites, as well, which will help you collect some recipies - but I won't spoil the fun of searching any more! If you decide to try some, please do write to me at the North Pole and let me know how you get on :santa:

Today is, I am afraid, only a short piece, however the elves hoped that this would bring back some fond memories for you, and when I explained the Chalet girls were very keen to help!


While they always tried to put on a good show, not just for those local people who attended and the parents who would come to see their darlings on stage, but also for those who were attached to the San – staff and patients and families – the mistresses were also aware that not everybody was possessed with great talent or a great love of the stage. One of the reasons that this had been such a daring idea was that every girl in the school was to have a part, if not in the main part of the play then in the traditional Nativity scene at the end.

Among those girls who had been somewhat nervous of the whole idea was Yvette Mercier; she was a shy, retiring creature who was most often to be found quite contentedly in the middle of the crowd. It had been something of a headache to provide for her for, while she quailed at the thought of appearing alone on stage, she had been as keen as the rest of the Juniors to be involved and nobody wanted her to feel left out. Then, browsing her books for inspiration one night, Madge had come across the perfect country. It would be only a small part but it was suitably exotic to be as exciting as the rest, to the Juniors at least. Indeed, the smile bestowed on her when she suggested the idea to Yvette had made the giving up of that particular afternoon seem well worth it.

Now Yvette walked sedately to the stage, hands trembling a little but stuffed deep into her pockets. It wouldn't do to show that she was nervous! She was wearing a brand new suit, smart pleated skirt matched to a pristine white blouse with the regulation brown tie pressed neatly into shape. Her hair had been tied back into a bow and altogether she looked a most presentable damsel. There was to be no mime, and so she stood on stage and delivered her speech prettily, eyes flickering to Madge now and then to receive an encouraging smile at how well she was doing.

“In Egypt on Christmas eve everyone will go to church wearing brand new clothes, and stay until the bells ring at midnight to signal the end of the service. Afterwards they go home and eat a special meal of rice, garlic, bread and boiled meat, known as fata. Previous to this in Advent there has been forty days of fasting, where no meat or dairy products have been eaten.

“On Christmas day people visit friends and relatives, and take with them kaik, or shortbread, to be eaten with a special drink, shortbat. They celebrate their Christmas together.”

Reassured by a final smile from Madge that she had remembered everything and delivered her speech well, Yvette left the stage with more than a twinge of thankfulness, hurrying back into the enveloping dark of backstage to be greeted by her fellow Juniors, who were most in admiration of her performance and proceeded to cheer her up with reassurances of how well she'd done.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Egypt
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2011, 13:46 
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This is lovely Santa, such a clever weaving together of girls and customs.....thank you

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Egypt
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2011, 18:09 
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Thank you, Santa!

I remmeber being slightly astonished to find that every single meal in Egypt comes with both rice and bread. The first day we were there, we tried to refuse the rice as we really didn't need all that food and we hadn't actually ordered it, but the waiting staff realised this was clearly a mistake on the part of the foreigners and brought us a huge dish of rice anyway.

It was very brave of Yvette to go on stage despite her nervousness, and how nice of Madge to find her a small part!

Many thanks, too, for the links to Norwegian recipes. I'm looking forward to exploring them in more detail over the weekend!

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Egypt
PostPosted: 10 Dec 2011, 15:02 
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Santa would like to note: my elves found some of the research on this country problematic, and so, knowing of the expertise on the board, we were a little tentative about posting. The elves assure me, however, that they take full responsibility for any inaccuracies, and all letters of correction or complaint may be sent to the North Pole. Thankyou.

There had been some controversy over the girl to play the next tableaux in the school, and Miss Bettany had had to exercise all of her diplomacy to stop there from being a large argument which would split the school into two factions. All had been agreed that this country must be represented, being a close neighbour of the school, but while the mistresses had wanted to offer the role to Wanda, who looked perfect for it, some of the girls had favoured Cornelia, who had been more than a little disgruntled with her own offered role. As they argued fiercely – though mainly amongst themselves, for once Madge had issued a dictat they didn't dare to argue against it – the description in the book only called for a fair haired girl, and it wasn't fair for the prefects to take all of the best roles when Cornelia would have been just as suitable.

This had been during a period of prolonged snow, when the girls were entirely housebound, and luckily for all concerned the spell of weather had broken two days later and enabled them all to go out for a long walk with a jolly snow fight as they tramped around the lake. On their return no more had been said on the matter, although Cornelia did have the grace to look a little shamefaced at her actions, and now it was Wanda who emerged onto the stage.

She had always been one of the most amazingly beautiful girls it would have been possible to meet, but dressed as she was, in flowing white robes with her fair hair loose over her shoulders, a golden crown with paper candles adorning her, she looked simply stunning. In one hand, the stick was once again present.

Slowly, Wanda meandered across the stage, picking up items and tucking them into her robes, as well as bending down to place something in some sort of container which she carried for the purpose. Once she had worked her way in a semi-circle, she stopped in the middle of the stage.

“I am Christkind, a winged messenger of Christ who comes on Nikolaustag to leave presents in the shoes of boys and girls, which they place outside the door for me to find. If, however, they have been bad, I shall leave them my rod, as a reminder to try and behave next year. Children may also leave me letters to find, decorated with glue and sugar so that they sparkle and look nice for me.

“In Germany, a room in the house is carefully locked so that it is not until midnight on Christmas eve that children are allowed down to see the tree lit up in all of its glory. There is the Advent wreath, with candles lit every week, and also much baking, as families prepare magnificent gingerbread houses, as well as spiced biscuits and other treats from Christbaumgeback, a special pastry. It is traditional also to make gifts and decorations, which can include dolls made of fruit to hang on the tree.

“Finally, on January 6th children may dress up as kings, to celebrate Three Kings' Day, and go around collecting sweets and money for charity. It is my visit, to leave my rewards or my rod, which is most anticipated by many, however.”

Wanda was the possessor of a fine voice, sweet and melodic, and her speech had been delivered with a rare confidence that had held her audience enraptured. The finale of her act, however, was to sing 'Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht' in wondrous strains that, with Mr Denny's piano, left most of the hall breathless. As she sang, she proceeded down the aisle, to disappear again, white robes fluttering behind her.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Germany
PostPosted: 10 Dec 2011, 22:25 
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Thank you, Santa! I love all the backstories, and I don't know much about how Christmas is celebrated in Germany, so I was interested to read about it!

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Germany
PostPosted: 11 Dec 2011, 14:59 
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Some girls might have been daunted by following such a performance, but not Margia, a leading light in the school for both her musical abilities and her somewhat inventive ideas when it came to pranks. Her own choice had taken some researching to try and write accurately, but once she had set herself the task she went at it with a vim and passion worthy of a better cause, such as her normal schoolwork, as Miss Maynard pointed out witheringly when presented with the research as an excuse for an appalling piece of maths preparation. The result, however, was unusual but certainly approved of by the mistresses, who had enjoyed a calm and untroubled period while one middle, at least, was so devoted to researching things other than mischief.

Finding a costume for her chosen country had been something of a problem, for there was nothing immediately obvious which was associated itself to the celebrations Margia had been able to find. At the start she had been rather attached to the idea of a pinata around her neck, but this was firmly vetoed on the grounds that it would leave her unable to walk properly at all. In desperation, they had finally resorted to dressing her in her school uniform and hoping that she would pass muster as an ordinary child, at least for the purposes of her mime; disgusted as she was not to get a costume like the rest, Margia accepted the diktat as necessary if she wished to do that particular performance.

The first part of the mime was a procession, which she enacted with due solemnity until she reached the stage and took her position. As tribute to her musical skills, she hummed a dirge as she walked which only stopped when she launched into her speech.

“In Mexico Christmas celebrations are dominated by La Posada, the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter. Other parts of Christ's story are also reflected in their traditions. Across the country are served Rosca de Reyes, a sweetbread made in many sizes to serve up to twenty people. Inside these sweetbread, served with Tamales and hot chocolate, is hidden a plastic figurine to represent the baby Jesus. He is so hidden because of the need to stop him being found by Herod, and the knife used to slice the Rosca is the danger he was in. Then it is shared around, and whoever finds Jesus in their piece must host a night of celebration on Candlaria, February 2nd.

“There are other, non-religious traditions, too. One particularly fun tradition is that reserved for children on Christmas day.”

It should be noted that it was Margia's turn to take possession of the stick, and she now used it to good effect in her mime. Shutting her eyes tightly, she took a few steps back from the edge of the stage, spun around several times and then waved the stick wildly in the air, cheering as she did so. Before the bemusement of the audience had quite overcome this, she opened her eyes widely, beamed and used the stick to sift through a pile of something on the floor.

“On Christmas day, children are blindfolded and led to a pinata, hanging from the ceiling, which they must crack without looking. When they manage it, they get the presents inside,” she explained, for the benefit of the mystified audience.

“The poinsetta is the traditional flower of the season. This is in memory of the young boy who went to visit the nativity and see the birth place of the Christ child. He had no gift to offer, however, and so on the way he collected some green branches to give. Those at the church laughed at him when they saw him, but Jesus was evidently pleased, for on each of the branches bloomed a bright red flower, the poinsetta.”

Having finished her speech, Margia skipped away, grinning boldly at the two old ladies in the audience who had been muttering together in heavy German accents about the oddness of these English girls.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Mexico
PostPosted: 12 Dec 2011, 13:39 
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Oh, fabulous! Thank you, Santa. I've heard of pinatas, but didn't know that they were associated with Christmas. And I've always wondered why poinsettias are around at Christmas as I've never heard that story before!

I love that the girls are doing their own research, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Mexico
PostPosted: 12 Dec 2011, 20:44 
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I am pleased to have enlightened you! Now we move a little closer to home...

Next to grace the stage was one of Margia's friends, a fellow leading Middle and the niece of co-foundress Mademoiselle. It had been accepted from the start that Simone would be La Belle France and she and her aunt had spent many delighted hours planning what she was to say and wear and mime. Mademoiselle had taught her an old French carol, which her grandmother had used to sing to her, and they had spent many hours reminiscing over their homeland.

Now Simone appeared dressed as a French Queen, wearing the traditional headdress and long, flowing robes which swished the floor behind her as she walked. Beaming as she took to the stage, she struck her pose, standing straight and tall with her arms spread a little at her sides. She knew, for she had begged and bothered until her unsentimental friend had given in just to get some peace, that Joey was watching her from just inside the darkness of the double doors, and she could see Mademoiselle sat at one side, eager in anticipation of her niece's performance.

“Christmas eve in France is a time of great celebration, both in churches where carols are sung and also in homes,” she began. “When the families retire to bed they leave out a meal, lest the Virgin Mary should choose to come to their house, and children also leave out their sabots in the hope that they will be filled with sweets and bonbons by the Christ child, or Pere Noel. People must also light their log, which traditionally is kept burning until New Year's Day, when in past time a part of it would have been cut away and added to the plough to bring good luck to that year's harvest.

“Although we do not have many culinary traditions, many familes do make a buche de nol, or Yule log. In addition, most homes will have on display a Nativity scene, peopled with small clay figures called “Little Saints”. These represent not only the famous figures such as magi and shepherds, but also local dignitaries or celebrities. Most of the models for these are very old, and have been passed down from generation to generation.

“Another popular tradition relates to the story of the Three Kings.”

Here Simone sang the quaint old carol which Mademoiselle had taught her, all about the kings and their now infamous journey. It was originally written to be played without music, but Mr Denny had penned an air all of his own to accompany it, so that it became even more thrilling than before.

“To celebrate the Three Kings, French people would make a Three Kings Cake,” Simone explained, when she had finished singing. “Inside the cake was hidden a bean, and whoever had the slice with the bean in it was crowned King or Queen for the day. Children will also go out to look for the Three Kings, and some take with them hay for the camels in case they are ever found.”

This, at least, explained her costume, and as she swept a deep curtsey and left the stage Simone was pleased by the smiles which she saw, especially Mademoiselle's. Her contentment was made complete when, upon asking Joey how she had performed, that young lady replied decidedly,

“Absolutely toppingly!”

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - France
PostPosted: 13 Dec 2011, 18:22 
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Determined to outdo her friends in terms of both exoticism and performance, Cyrilla Maurus had embraced the play. Usually a quiet, retiring student, she had recently awakened to a sense of competition, largely thanks to Margia; both were musical students, and while Cyrilla had never been good at games and lessons, she had always excelled in music and had determined not to let Margia outdo her. This, she considered, was no different. All of the middles had set themselves to make the school proud, and Cyrilla was not going to let the side down, so she saw no reason not to prove her own merits at the same time.

It had taken some nerve to work herself up to appearing on stage and, knowing that she would struggle in front of the audience, she had decided to be short but brilliant. Knowing that most of the audience would know at least something about European countries, she had read further afield and planned a short piece on some slightly different celebrations.

At first she had asked to be allowed to carry a candle as part of her performance, but Madge, already imagining the interview with Herr Braun where she confessed to having burnt down his building, had firmly said no. In the end there was a compromise, and Cyrilla was allowed a real but unlit candle. This she carried in front of her, held out straight, to the strains of a mystic march with which she matched time perfectly as she walked.

Once on stage, cradling something imaginary in her arms, Cyrilla walked in a large circle around the stage, and as she walked she began to talk to her audience. In this she had been cleverer than many of her peers, for rather than risk having to look at her audience she instead could deliver the information while concentrating on turning the circle, for which particular brainwave she duly congratulated herself.

“It is Christmas morning in Syria. Already we have had some of our Christmas traditions; on December 6th we have had our special Mass to celebrate the life of Saint Nicholas Thaumaturgus, a generous and kind man. We have also spent Christmas eve in celebrations. Everyone in the family comes together and carries candles outside, then, after a story from the youngest child of the family, we have lit a bonfire and watched carefully for signs from the flames to the year ahead.

“Now it is Christmas morning, and again in church we have lit a bonfire.” Cyrilla came to a stop and finally turned out to look across the room. “We gather around the bonfire, and we sing traditional, ancient hymns. Then the celebrant of the service carries a figure of the Christ child around the church, and when they have completed the circuit they will touch the person nearest to them, in a touch of peace, which that person will pass on until everybody has received it.

“We then go home and have the traditional Christmas dinner of chicken, nuts, pastries and oranges, but presents will not be exchanged until New Year's Day. Presents are brought by the youngest camel of the Three Wise Men. Children will leave water and hay outside for them and when they wake up in the morning these will have gone, to be replaced by presents.”

At the end of her speech, Cyrilla treated them all to an old English carol about the Three Wise Men. Her soft, simple voice told the story well, and at the end she glided from the stage, candle still held out before her as a beacon of hope against the world.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Syria
PostPosted: 13 Dec 2011, 23:05 
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Thank you, Santa! I've really enjoyed seeing two countries today, since I missed France's yesterday!

I'm still really enjoying learning so many new things about how Christmas is celebrated.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Syria
PostPosted: 15 Dec 2011, 18:02 
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I am very sorry to have missed you yesterday, Joey! My sleigh had to go in for its M.O.T. before I need it to drive around the world, but thanks to Mrs Claus' great care it has passed perfectly. I have ordered Rudolph to try and stay off of his carrot wine, and we can again begin travelling!

By now the audience were starting to shuffle and mutter to themselves; the show itself was beautiful and entrancing, but any concentration can be stretched after a time and this was no exception. Thankfully, the next was a short act by one of the Seniors, and Madge knew that the final person to appear before the interlude couldn't help but to keep them all spellbound as she talked. Still she looked anxiously at Dr Jem, who smiled reassuringly and, under the cover of darkness, squeezed her hand, whereon nestled a tiny gold ring that he knew only too well.

Up to the stage came Bette. She was dressed in full Spanish attire, and as she gained the stage she struck a pose not dissimilar to a flamenco dancer at their most dramatic, wide sleeves flared around her and head tossed back. She nursed a secret passion for drama and intended to fully enjoy her moment, so that it had taken some subtle hints from Madge about her performance to see that she kept her dignity. She knew, though nobody else could, that one member of the audience was a certain Dr di Bersetti from the Sanatorium, who had come to watch her play.

I am Black Peter,” she announced. To a rolling chord from Mr Denny she skipped backwards and started to flick through the leaves of a giant mimed book, frowning over entries and occasionally jotting things down. After a few pages of corrections, she looked up again and frowned convincingly at her audience. “There have been some very naughty boys and girls this year.”

A few more pages were flicked and then she walked forwards so that she was back at the centre of the stage, looking out at them all, and one man in particular.

“Every year I accompany St Nicholas on his boat journey to Holland to give out presents to those who deserve them; usually we live in Spain, but every year many people will come to meet us at the docks of Amsterdam, where we ride through the streets on a snow horse among many celebrations. We are always very careful to arrive on December 5th – Sinterklaas eve!

“One other tradition of Holland is that during the Christmas period, every evening at sundown farmers must sound a horn, over a well of water to ensure it is loud indeed, so that they may herald the coming of Christ. Christmas day itself is a religious time spent in going to church or singing carols around the family Christmas tree.”

Here, Bette struck her pose again and, to a lively air, began to sing in Spanish. It had taken some intensive coaching on the part of Miss Denny to get this particular carol right, but her perseverance had paid off and it was with justifiable pride in herself that Bette sang the verse and chorus. It was true that she stumbled a little over one line, but Mr Denny had predicted this from their many rehearsals and neatly covered the mistake with a flourish of his piano. Then, with a large bow which made her sleeves cover her in a fantastic display of colour, she was gone from the stage, head filled with wondering what her doctor would have thought.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Holland
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2011, 20:00 
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As I don't know if you have ever heard Robin's song before, you may find it here to enjoy if you wish! Click to expand for the lyrics :santa: I have also taken the small liberty of assuming the nationality of Robin's mother, I hope that you do not mind.

The last act to grace the stage was a small, angelic girl known to all who lived around the lakeside as das Engelkind. She had taken great delight in dressing up for the play, largely with help from Joey, who had forfeited her own outfit to a large extent in favour of making Robin's. The young girl, growing up with her half-Russian mother, had been immersed in Russian tradition and even dimly remembered one Christmas spent in the traditional style; it had therefore been something of a joy to her to rediscover all of the half remembered happenings of which her mother had told her so much. Cradled in Joey's arms in the library, listening to her read and helping to plan it all, had brought Christmas alive for her again.

Now she tripped quite merrily up to the stage, basket over one arm covered with a tea-cloth and shawl pulled firmly around both head and shoulders. She had been told to try and look sad, as befitted the role she was playing, but she couldn't help the joyous excitement radiating from her. Trotting to the centre of the stage, she lay down her basket and perched next to it, legs crossed and head bowed. Then she looked up at them all and smiled.

“I have come to watch all of the Russian celebrations as I journey through the great country, delivering my gifts,” she explained in her careful English. “In Russia, Christmas begins 39 days before Christmas eve, so that people may fast and say prayers during this time. This is in readiness for the great celebrations which come at the end of this time, known as the Festival of Winter.

“In every house hay is laid out, to produce feed, and people must walk around clucking like chickens to produce eggs.” She paused for the ripple of laughter which went around the hall. “On Christmas eve there is a large feast everywhere, in which people have twelve courses – one for each of the apostles. There are many different dishes served, though one is Borscht, a traditional Russian soup. Then on Christmas day people will go to churches decorated with Yelka, coloured lights and flowers, where there are many hymns sung. One such Russian song is the Red Sarafan.”

It had taken some persuasion on Robin's part to be allowed to sing her mother's special song, for it was hardly to be considered a Christmas song, but with the beautiful face turned up to her so appealingly, Madge had felt herself swaying and, eventually, had agreed to allow the Robin to sing it in Russian. Her voice was clear and true, childish but with something in it that demanded attention, and Mr Denny accompanied in his usual fine style. When she finished, she shifted a little into a more comfortable position and began talking again.

“I am known as Babooshka, and it is my destiny to wander across the land, leaving gifts for all of the little children. A very long time ago, three wise men stayed at my house on their journey to the Great Land, and told me many marvellous tales of the wonderful things which would happen when the Son of God came to earth. But I was too busy to go with them as they wished, and so I stayed behind.

“Many days later I realised how foolish I had been, and immediately set forth with my basket of toys to offer to the Baby Jesus. But when I reached the stable He had been taken and everyone had left. I was so ashamed and disappointed that now I walk around the world every year, leaving presents for any children I find, in case one of them is the Baby Jesus whom I missed on that very first Christmas of all.”

With great composure, Robin stood up, collected her basket and began to walk away again, after glancing happily at Madge as she passed. Once she had left, Madge climbed on stage to announce that there would now be a ten minute break, with the great urns of milky coffee at the back of the hall provided by Marie for any who were in need of a drink.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - Russia
PostPosted: 17 Dec 2011, 20:17 
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During the break the girls were tied closely to quarters, otherwise known as the tiny classroom which had been commandeered for the purpose. It would have created impossible difficulties for them all if the girls had had to try and change to come out and mingle, or risk ruining the surprise of their outfits, and it hardly seemed fair to expect them to be divided, so that those who had performed could appear without the others. Instead, Eigen brought them in a tray of mugs of warm, milky coffee and a plate of biscuits, which was greatly enjoyed by all while the man-of-all-work talked happily to Bernhilda about the weather forecast for the area.

It was only to be a short interlude, to allow the audience to stretch their legs a little, and the men to congregate for a cigarette while the women talked eagerly about the show. The pageant was not a long one, and Madge didn't want it to be dragged out interminably and risk fatiguing her students, particularly those who were delicate. Even in the short space of time, however, she received so many compliments that she was positively blushing by the time that Onkel Reise, as Joey was fond of calling him, came up to take her hand in his own big, warm ones and reassure her of how well it was all going.

Joey herself was the first to appear after the break. The audience were guided back to their seats by Mr Denny striking up a random piece to signal that it was about to begin again, and as Madge settled herself comfortably once more she heard the tiny squeak of the door at the back of the hall open, and a hush descend across the audience.

It had been decided to use Joey's natural pallor and pointed chin to great effect, so that underneath a sedge hat tied with ribbon she made a rather elfish Chinese girl. Her clothes were of the traditionally worn robes and in her hands she carried a delicate paper lantern which drifted merrily in the breeze. Once on the stage, she set it down to one side of herself, folded her hands together and bowed neatly from the middle.

“In China many people do not celebrate Christmas,” she said. “Instead they call it the Spring Festival, but will enjoy many of the same celebrations as Christian believers. The main tradition in China is for the tree to be decorated by the children with paper shapes, such as flowers or lanterns. They also hang stockings, so that Dun Che Lao Ren may fill them with presents.

“By contrast, in nearby Hong Kong the main focus is on Christmas cards, which are sent by most people. These are not like European Christmas cards, but are exquisitely decorated with traditional scenes among a Chinese setting.

“In Vietnam, as in Hong Kong, there are many church services, especially a midnight Mass on Christmas eve. After this people will return home to enjoy the traditional meal of chicken soup.

“Across this region many European customs are adopted, thanks to European rule bringing their culture to the people, including the singing of some European carols.”

It was, they all knew, a rather obvious lead-in to Joey's song, but with a voice as fine and clear as her own she couldn't have been expected not to sing, and she stunned the audience with a rendition of 'Adeste Fideles'. Then, with another bow, she picked up her lantern and gratefully escaped.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - the East
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2011, 12:18 
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I love reading about all the different traditions all around the world. Thank you Santa :D

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - the East
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2011, 14:01 
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Loving this but assuming Marya Humpheries was Russian not Polish! She'd have been mightily annoyed if she knew.... good job it's all a story!

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - the East
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2011, 16:26 
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Here's hoping that she can forgive me, Sugar! I must be sure to leave her a special present this year to make up for the inconvenience :santa:

The rather enterprising duo who came next had been strictly warned before the show about appropriate behaviour, for neither was a stranger to trouble. It had been Cornelia's appeasement that she be allowed to play the part of America, but as this had already been given to Evadne, they had in the end agreed to share it between them. For want of better costumes, plump Cornelia was dressed as a traditional Santa Claus, while lithe, lean Evadne played her (taller) elf.

Taking up positions on the stage next to each other, they launched into their speech, Evadne first.

“In 1809 Washington Irving wrote a book about a man called St. Nicholas who smoked a pipe and flew around in a sleigh, without reindeer, delivering presents to children. This was the start of the Santa Claus who Americans know and love today. He finally became the figure that he is in 1863, and since then has become known around the globe.

“Because of America's past, and its settlements, there are many different traditions in each of the different States.”

“In Alaska,” began Cornelia, taking up the tale, “A procession carries a lit star from door to door, with Herod's men following and trying to catch up with it. Some doors may be decorated with pineapple, the Colonial sign of hospitality.”

Evadne had marched a full circle around the stage, head tilted back and hands up as if carrying a large star, knees lifting as high as she could as she went in a bizarre parody of a soldier. Now she resumed her place.

“In Arizona Las Posadas, the Mexican tradition, is kept up, where whole families re-enact Mary and Joseph's search for a room as they call from house to house.”

This time, Cornelia had marched around, with much less vigour it must be said, whispering and murmuring, looking around furtively and knocking on imaginary doors. The many faces she pulled had more than one audience member recall to mind the old adage of the wind changing. Impervious, she began to talk again.

“In Hawaii people let off fireworks and guns to send presents to their distant neighbours,” she said. There was a pause as Evadne took up a stance, legs wide apart and arms out straight in front of her, one eye closed for accuracy and tounge sticking out a little to show her concentration over the steepled fingers, with which she mimed shooting at someone off stage. “Here, Santa arrives in a boat and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors.”

“In Pennsylvania, Moravians build a putz, or landscape, under the Christmas tree,” said Evadne. “Meanwhile Belsnickle visits the Germans and gives thema tap with his switch if they have been naughty.”

Cornelia promptly tapped the side of Evadne's head, and the effect on the audience was better imagined than described! Already many had been struggling to contain themselves, but Evadne's pious look while Cornelia evidently took great delight in prodding her friend was too much, especially after Evadne's eye-cocking as she aimed her pistol. Most broke into uproarious laughter, but the duo continued gamely with reciting their facts.

“In New Orleans the traditional Christmas festivity is for an ox to be paraded around the street,” explained Cornelia. Madge's amusement turned to horror as she realised that Evadne fully intended to ignore her express instruction not to mime this part; even she, however, couldn't hold back laughter at the sight of a giant elf crawling around on stage, lowing lustily the whole time. As for Jem, he was struggling to remain in his seat, and the bellows of laughter from Herr Marani could be heard outside the building. Valiantly, Cornelia added, “It is decorated with ribbons and holly.”

Clambering up from the floor, Evadne said, in a rather breathless manner,

“In Philadelphia, a mummers parade runs all day with many celebrations, including fancy dress and bands.”

“And,” finished Cornelia, “Santa has two homes in America; in Wilmington, New York he has a village for his reindeer, while he also shares a home with Mrs Claus in Torrington, Connecticut where he gives out presents with some help from his elves.”

In unison, the two girls bowed to their audience and then walked away – as if they were on the casualest of walks along the riverbank, as a choked Miss Maynard said later when reliving the event. Most people were quite thankful that they had kept their piece so short, for there were many among the audience finding it hard to breathe after Evadne's donkey impersonation, and the brief respite before the next act was embraced wholeheartedly.

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 Post subject: Re: Around the World - A Drabble for Joey - America
PostPosted: 19 Dec 2011, 14:26 
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Thank you, Santa! I've had three countries to read about this morning, thanks to being away over the weekend! Thank you so much. I've really enjoyed this Christmas journey, and learned a lot, too.

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