Alright, that’s all folks! We have now come to the last stop on our journey across the most unbelievable details about our respective countries. We hope you have enjoyed this section (the highlights of which are also included in the Who’s Who Book, if you haven’t noticed;)) and learnt a lot of useful information that you can quote in order to appear even more nerdy than you normally do. 😀
Eva from Slovakia teaches us some useful Slovak phrases:
- Slovak is one of the few languages in which you can form a meaningful sentence without usig a vowel, for example: Strč prst skrz krk (Put your finger down your throat).
- Slovak is sometimes called the Slavic Esperanto because it is supposed to be the most intelligible to other Slavic languages.
- In Slovakia, ham and bacon are apparently not considered to be meat because many restaurants here list fried cheese with ham and “halušky” with bacon as non-meat dishes.
Olga from Poland tells us how to become a witch or wizard:
- “Asterix” was created by René Goscinny – a French comic writer born in a family of Polish immigrants. He also contributed to the series of “Lucky Luke”
- A Polish female dog Chica – known as “mutant spider dog” – became the number one most watched video on You Tube in 2014. Currently it has over 145 million views.
- Fans of Harry Potter established a College of Wizardry at Czocha castle in Poland. Participants can play the roles of teachers, pupils and other characters from the world of J. K. Rowling.
Mateja from Slovenia invites us to jail (as long as we stay together, it should be fun, right?):
- Over one third of Slovenia’s territory is protected and included in the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network, which protects biodiversity.
- The geographical and climatic variety and diversity of Slovenia enables you to pick autumn fruits in the morning, bathe in the Adriatic Sea in the afternoon, and go night skiing in the evening, all in a day. It is also one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of water. It has almost 27,000 kilometres of rivers, streams and other watercourses. It also has numerous thermal and mineral springs and many subterranean waters.
- Slovenia has one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe, between 500 and 700 bears, it is believed. You can even eat bear meat in some restaurants!
- By far the most successful Slovene musical group of any genre or era is the Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, a popular folk group which has sold over 31 million albums (Slovenia has only 2 million inhabitants). The Avsenik brothers are also the most-performed European composers. The founder of Avsenik Brothers Ensemble died at the beginning of July and his funeral was even broadcast by the national TV. Their most famous song, Na Golici, is almost like a national anthem, and is usually played on parties and sport events:
- In Slovenia you can pay to spend the night in a prison cell. The Celica Hostel in Ljubljana is a former military prison with comfortable and imaginatively designed cells for guests. The area where the hostel is located (Metelkova) is also the most popular party district in the capital.
Petra P. from the Czech Republic tells us how Czechs invented ‘robots’ and… fake Czechs:
- Jára Cimrman is the most famous Czech, even though he is not a real person. This fictional genius (or rather jack-of-all-trades) was created by “cimrmanologists” – a group of famous actors/writers/scenarist/comedians. They founded the Jára Cimrman theatre in Prague in 1966, where they perform Jára Cimrman´s plays. Sometimes they tour small local theaters and you can also watch many plays, sketches or seminars on TV. The performers and actors never change and people associate them with the cult of Jára Cimrman.
You can find Jára Cimrman´s CV or read about his achievements online. To start with, check Wikipedia which has a detailed Jára Cimrman entry in English. There are also some videos with subtitles on YouTube, for example: Jara Cimrman – Ceske nebe: Moral Aspect of Mystification. His play Záskok (The Stand-In) was the first to be translated into English , it was performed by a group of British actors in the Jára Cimrman theatre in Prague last year 2014 (translated by Brian Stewart and Emílie Machalová). In the Greatest Czech contest, where the expected candidates would be writers, scientists or artists, most people voted for Jára Cimrman. He was disqualified by the Czech Television because the candidates had to be real people. Cimrman-enthusiasts filed a petition against this decision after which the Czech Television created a special category for fictional characters. Jára Cimrman represents all the aspects of Czech ironic and sarcastic sense of humor with so many references to Czech culture which are almost impossible to translate into other languages. There are many Cimrman devotees and fan groups whose knowledge on cimrmanology borders with obsession.
- Mushrooming is one of the most popular Czech hobbies. Every autumn (sometimes even as early as August) the season of mushrooms starts and you can tell it is so by all the people going to forests with big baskets, by all the cars parked next to the roads in forests and all the restaurants offering special mushroom dishes.
There are many people who really enjoy picking mushrooms but don´t really like eating them and there are also people who love eating mushrooms but are not keen mushroom pickers or don´t have time to go mushrooming. But in any case, there is always plenty for everybody! 🙂
- The word robot is of Czech origin. It first appeared in the play R.U.R. (or Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek in 1920. The word was derived from a noun “robota” which means “labor”. It was in fact Čapek’s brother Josef (a famous painter) who came up with this word. There are many stories about how it happened, but basically Karel went to his brother, who was standing in front of a canvas, to ask about his new play and how he should call the artificial workers who do a lot of “robota” and Josef suggested “robots” (“roboti” in Czech).
Bernadett from Hungary explains that it’s all about sex in Hungary:
- The Hungarian language is known as Magyar and is the direct descendent of the language spoken by the Huns. It is not an Indo-European language and has only two related languages in Europe, Finnish and Estonian. Hungarian is officially among the most difficult languages to be learnt and spoken. This has been certified by a British Foreign Office survey.
- Hungarians expect friends to share private and intimate details of their personal lives. If you ever feel you are being asked personal questions, this is simply meant as part of the getting-to-know-you process. Hungarians will even enjoy sharing details of their romantic life with you!
- Budapest is famous for being one of the world’s sex capitals. Pornography, sex toursim and prostitution converge in the Hungarian capital, to the delight of some and the frowns of others. Porn in Hungary generates around €636 million a year, representing around 0.5% of the country’s GDP.
- According to Forbes magazine, the wealthiest Hungarian is György Gattyán, the so-called ”porn king” who established his wealth by running internet sites with erotic content, and has recently moved his business to Luxembourg.
Christos from Greece reminds us that Greece is the birthplace of Europe:
- The diet as lifestyle and cultural element
The ancient Greek civilization is not only the material findings of the excavations. Civilization is also how we live, think, react, and what we eat). The ancient Greeks, as humans with Classical Greek literacy, ate frugally, and only food with a high nutritional value in order to communicate mentally and physically, and not just to survive.
On the other hand, in our era, the era of fast-food, children are very close to believing that milk is a chemical product, and we, adults, often confuse the natural with the plastic. However, the traditional modern-Greek way of eating still preserves the recipes and diet of ancient Greeks, and therefore if we realize the importance and value of this tradition and heritage, we will improve significantly the quality of our lives. Hippocrates said “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food”.
- Greek language
The Greek language is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, and holds an important place in the Western world. It has the longest documented history of any European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. All arts and sciences were born and developed using this language. The first and foundational texts of Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Law, Western Philosophy, Medicine, History, Gastronomy, etc., they were written in this language. The first theatre plays (comedies and tragedies), the epic poems of Homer (the Illiad and the Odyssey), as well as the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Byzantine literary works, and the first encyclopaedia were written in the Greek language.
This is one of the few languages in the world that presents a homogeneous development, representing a rare phenomenon in the linguistic history of mankind since it has been spoken for thousands of years without interruption. This is a language with unique virtues: it offers exceptional expressiveness, flexibility, synthetic strength and productive capacity so that, depending on the needs, it can very easily produce and compose new words.
- Europe without Greece is like a ….
In the ancient Greek mythology, Zeus fell in love with the daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor, Europa. To approach her, he turned into a white bull and with his charm he mesmerized Europa, who sat on him. Then Zeus kidnapped her and took her to Crete.
The European civilization was born in Classical Greece (5th century BC), and the etymology of Europe is derived from the Greek “ευρύς” (wide, broad) and “ώψ” (eye, face, countenance). Namely, the word Europe means “wide-gazing”, “broad of aspect”. Consequently, Europe without Greece is like a child without birth certificate.