Sweden, the land of mulled wine and meatballs. Japan, the land of KFC and romance.

These two countries couldn’t be any more different! But apart from the food and the romance..
how exactly do they differ?
Well, that is what we are going to find out now!


We can start off with answering a question from lasts week’s post. The question was if the Japanese actually exchanged gifts with each other. The answer is yes! They get each other gifts. The gift hype isn’t as big as in Sweden, but in the matter of fact, Japan actually does have a sort of Santa Claus. The Santa is written as
サンタさん、サンタクロース (Santa-san or Mr Santa), but they also have another gift-giver: Hoteiosho, who is a Japanese god. Hoteiosho isn’t really related to Christmas since he is a god in Buddhism, but he seems to appear around Christmas anyway


So, in the subject of gifts – how does Swedish gift traditions look?

Well, the first thing that is different is that we don’t have any god who brings gifts. We only have Santa. Santa is a big deal in Sweden, but maybe mostly if you celebrate with kids. You buy gifts and tell your kids they’re from Santa, but as the kids get older, that tradition kind of disappears with time. The gifts don’t disappear, though! You usually get each other some sort of gift, no matter the age. Maybe it’s hard to see the differences between the Swedish and the Japanese gift-subject, but there are some differences. For an example – they have a gift god. Their Christmas doesn’t evolve around the gifts. Sweden doesn’t have a god. Instead, Sweden has this really large gift culture. The gifts are important to us, but maybe not as important to them.

But of course, Christmas is about more than just gifts. It’s also about the food! There are some really big differences that can be discussed. For an example – why do they eat KFC and strawberry cake in Japan, while we here in Sweden have a whole buffet? The answer lies in history. The biggest reason to why Swedes celebrate Christmas is thanks to Christianity. But the thing is, that most Japanese people isn’t Christian. In Japan, they get their Christmas food from the States. They eat KFC because they thought that KFC was the typical American Christmas food. The Christmas food Sweden and Japan couldn’t really be more different! A lot of Swedes stand in the kitchen all day for the food, and the Japanese eat cake and fast-food! Isn’t that fascinating?



I think this was the biggest differences in our traditions. It’s the small things that matters though, as always in life! For an example, Christmas isn’t even an national holiday. But in Sweden, it’s one of the biggest events of the year! We dedicate an entire month for Christmas alone.

This was it! I hope you find it interesting!

As the Japanese would say.. メリークリスマス (Merīkurisumasu)!
And as we would say.. merry Christmas!

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In this entry I’m going to compare Jamaica’s popular culture to my own experience and the popular culture here in Sweden. Our music, religion and food.

When you speak of Sweden, you may speak of ABBA, midsommar and Kalles Kaviar. You can compare ABBA and Bob Marley, both countries has had some big artist that the rest of the world know. I can’t say that a music style is “born” here in Sweden but in my opinion we are really good or was really good at playing Rock, Europe for example. A Swedish rock band from Upplands Väsby. Their biggest album is their third one, The Final Countdown from 1986, which sold over tree million copies in the United States. But with the time the music has changes, now it’s more music from the hit lists. I thinks that is really sad, but we still have some bands that plays rock music. But most of the rock died after 1980’s.

In Sweden we have many religions. Rastafari is not so strong here as it is in Jamaica. People here in Sweden believes in many religions or no religion at all. Many people are Christians but they don’t believe so strong but many celebrate Christmas anyway. If you look at Jamaica and Rastafari, you have “special” clothes that is typical for it, in Sweden don’t have that kind of dressing code. We don’t believe as much as Rastafari people does.

Our national dish? What is it, maybe meatballs, “smörgåsbord” or is it tacos? Many people think of meatballs or “smörgåsbord” when they speak about Sweden. Tacos, that is not from Sweden but many people here in Sweden does eat tacos, some does it every Friday. We don’t have any special national dish, we often eat food that is inspired from other countries. I do often see people that is eating Sushi, not so Swedish, but many people likes it. Sweden is a country that has many influences from other counties and cultures. If you must say something very Swedish, I would say “smörgåsbord” and Midsommar.

Sweden’s landscape is different than Jamaica’s. Here we have woods, reindeers and wolfs, in Jamaica, they have beaches. We have that here too but not that beautiful. It is much warmer in Jamaica that it is in Sweden, very much warmer.

/Anna

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In my last entry I wrote some facts about the South African culture and today I am going to use that information to compare their culture to my experiences, as well as my culture here in Sweden.

To start of my discussion I am going to bring up a question I got in my last entry. The question is as follows “Would you say they Cook meals different than we do in Sweden?”

Well for starters it really does depend on were in South Africa you are. In the bigger cities they have the same kind of equipment you can find in any Swedish household. But in smaller villages they don´t have the same kind of modernity or resources for that matter. I think it´s quite interesting that we in Sweden have trouble with cooking if for example the power goes out. In a situation like that there´s not much we can do but to wish the power will be restored well before dinner. In South Africa they aren´t addicted to electricity like we are and can therefore make meals whenever. The way of cooking is a bit different since what we call traditional food in Sweden differs from the ones in South Africa. In Sweden we have meatballs and pickled herring. I don´t like any of it but I would love to try the specialties from South Africa. At least they use more spices and it feels more natural somehow. Like most of the stuff they eat are made by them as well and not manufactured like much food in Sweden is. The way they cook feels more honest and traditional.

In my last entry I also wrote some about music and dance, which we of course have in Sweden as well. When I think about Swedish music my mind doesn´t go to anything in particular but when I think about the South African music my mind goes directly to drums and gospel. Although I must say that traditional Swedish music often involves instruments like violins and accordions. To me it´s boring music, but maybe that´s because I am used to it. I like the South African music because it´s nothing like what we have in Sweden, and who knows, maybe South Africans would enjoy our traditional music since they are not used to that. However it feels like South Africa is more open to their culture, they seem to embrace it in a way that we swedes lack. It feels like they take more part in their culture than Swedes do in theirs, but I don´t know for sure. I have only brought up the Swedish traditional music, but of course we have more modern and popular music too. Most of the music that are modern in Sweden is influenced by other countries and therefore I don´t see it as traditional Swedish music.

Something about South Africa is their love for dance, you can see it in their smiles. South Africans can start to dance in the middle of the street, at day or night. In my experience people only dance in Sweden if there is a designated dance floor, if their home where no one can see them or on television trying to win a dancing competition. If someone were dancing in the middle of the street people would probably assume that he or she is drunk. Almost every country has a traditional way to dance and in Sweden we have our national costumes with our traditional dances and music. The types of dances we usually see on television in Sweden isn´t Swedish, it´s influenced by far more popular dance styles and countries.

To show you exactly what Swedish tradition looks like I have linked to a video where you will see people in national costumes dancing to somewhat traditional Swedish music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdCrZe69cyw

Well this was what I had to say about South African culture mixed with comparisons of my own experiences of culture along with my thoughts. Something I realized when I wrote this is how boring I find my own culture. The reason to that is because I am used to it, to me other cultures seems new and exciting and that´s probably how many people feel. Well I tried to keep the entry short, but I guess I had a few opinions I wanted to tell you all about, anyway I hope you enjoyed it!

 /Jessica   


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Do you like mulled wine? A white winter and meatballs? Well - then maybe you should celebrate Christmas in Sweden. Because a white winter away, is Japan. And they lack more Christmas elements than just mulled wine!

Christmas has in most countries its origin from Christianity, but Japan isn’t one of them. In the matter of fact, most Japans isn’t even Christians. So why do they celebrate?

Well, the answer is actually quite simple. The Japanese sort of imported Christmas.

How?
And why?
And from where?

The answer is that Japan imported Christmas from the west. From the United states, if you wanna be more specific. We can start with some history! In the 1600-th century, Japan was visited by European missionaries. The missionaries puropse was to convert Japan into Christianity, but their plan didn’t work out. Christianity became banished in the year of 1712, and Christmas alongside with it. The century’s kept going in the same direction, and Japan didn’t start to get influenced by the west until the 2000-th century. After the second world war, the United states occupied Japan. That led to the country being influenced by the Americans, and in this case, their romantic Christmas movies. Japan started to change, and if the Japanese that forbid Christmas all those years ago could see Japan today – they wouldn’t believe their eyes!


Shibuya in Tokyo in the beginning of the 1900-th century, versus Shibuya in Christmas times in 2013


Today, the Japanse Christmas is a very commercial holiday. The holiday more resembles what we would like to call a Valentine’s day, since the Japanese sort of has dedicated this holiday simply to dating. It’s not considered a national holiday (= there is still school and work to attend to), but it’s still a day that you share with your loved ones, or your friends. The typical Japanese Christmas also focus on the children – little parties with games are often organized, so that is usual for families with kids.

But of course, there is also typical Christmas traditions. There is decorations (like in the pictures above), presents, and of course – food!

The Japanese Christmas food isn’t anything alike the American, even though their Christmas origin from the States. The food may not be the typical American Christmas food, but in the matter of fact, the food actually origins from the States. Maybe you’re asking yourself what I mean right now. The answer is simple: under the Japanese Christmas, they eat food from the American fast-food Restaurant KFC!

The tradition of eating KFC for Christmas in actually so serious, that if you want the chance to get a table at one of these restaurants, you would have to book a table. And maybe even months prior to Christmas! This has started the popular saying: “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas), and it is easy to see why.


But naturally, they eat more than just KFC.
They also eat cake!

Japanese Christmas cake

The Japanese eat strawberry shortcake (which is a creation that usually is made of a sponge cake with wiped cream and strawberries) for Christmas. That may seem weird to us, but it’s considered a tradition there!



So, that about covers it!
As a summary, you can say that even though Japan got their Christmas from the west, our traditions differ in more ways than just mulled wine.


As the Japanese would say.. メリークリスマス (Merīkurisumasu)!
And as we would say.. merry Christmas!

//Lovisa



These are my sources:

http://japan2015.scout.se/sa-firas-julen-i-japan/
http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/japan.shtml
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/why-japan-is-obsessed-with-kentucky-fried-chicken-on-christmas-1-161666960/

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One thing I have always been interested in is culture. When I travel to a country I´ve never been to I want to know how people there live and how different it can be from what I am used to. I have only traveled within Europe but I am so excited to see other continents, for example Africa and among the countries I want to see is, South Africa.

Some things about South Africa is very interesting, such as the multicultural society. South Africa has a lot of different cultures and therefore they have several official languages in purpose to preserve their cultures as they are. About a tenth of the South African inhabitants has English as their mother tongue but many also have it as their second language. Among the other languages there are some I can´t even pronounce, for example there is: isiNdebele, Setswana and Xitsonga.

One thing I relate to culture is food since most countries have their very own specialty. The food in South Africa is influenced by many different cultures and has therefore a few specialties. Most traditional food is cooked over open fire or in pots. There are some things that are more typical than others for example there is:

Morogo which is a kind of wild spinach. If you mix that with butter-braised onions and tomato, or mix it into maize porridge you have very favored South African treat.
Amadumbe is a sweet potato mash with peanuts, it´s a simple dish but I bet it´s really good. In restaurants you can even get it topped with a drizzle of honey.
Chakalaka is a spicy delight that accompanies a main course and consists of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onions, vinegar, chili and one more ingredient that makes your Chakalaka different from everybody else’s.
Boerewors is a variety of spicy sausage and is char-grilled over an open fire and then covered in mustard and tomato sauce.

When I think about South Africa my thoughts goes directly to dance and music. In South Africa dance is the way of life, the music and rhythms are found in their hearts. They dance at wedding ceremonies, at rituals and for small things in the everyday life. In videos that I have seen they express happiness and you can see how much they embrace their culture.

As far as music goes they use drums very much to create a distinct baseline to follow. Other instruments can also be used, but much depends on the nationality of the people creating the music. For example, Zulu is one of many nationalities in South Africa and traditional music to them is based on their vocals along with a traditional dance. Gospel in general is the best-selling music genre in South Africa.
If you press the link below you will hear traditional Zulu music along with some pictures of the people, and some of the South African landscape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8rsEodZ8tc

This post was written by Jessica


On the first picture you can see some meat being cooked and some interesting mixes, on the second one you can see one of those spicy boerewors I mentioned. The two pictures in the middle are of people dancing. The last picture shows how clothes can look in some parts of South Africa.

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Bob Marley, Rastafari, Haile Selassie, Reggae, Ackee and saltfish. That ´s just a little bit that has with the Jamaican popular culture to do. And that’s what I’m going to write about. Popular culture in Jamaica.

When you speak of Jamaica, many people thinks of Bob Marley and Reggae and that is not so strange. Reggae was “born” in Jamaica in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It has after that been spread all over the world. The old reggae is still alive but with the years it has developed a bit, the instruments has been modernized. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Toots and The Maytals are examples on reggae artist from Jamaica that made the music famous in the rest of the world. The lyrics is often about everyday issues, social issues and politics and also to bless Jah. Rastafari is a thing that you may think of when you hear of Jamaica and some of the artists. Reggae music is nearly connected to Rastafari.

Rastafari or Rastafari Movement is a monotheistic religion and a social movement. It is inspired of Ethiopian Movement. The Bible is a holy. The Hole Piby that was written in Anguilla in the 1920’s is also important. It says that the Ethiopians are Gods people, they sometimes says that they are in Babylon’s captivity. The movement has built a myth about Ras Tafari that became the emperor in Ethiopian, Haile Selassie in 1930. They see Selassie as a reincarnation of God, called Jah. Today it is about one million that believes in Rastafari. Leonard Howell did published The Promised Key, a “manual” for Rastafari- believers. Some of the things that he wrote has been discard but the foundation is still left. The first and most important thing is that you need to accept Haile Selassie as the highest and the only leader of the black people in the world. Jah is a black, living God that walks around on earth with us and al Africans have a bit of it in them self. A God in heaven is just a lie that white people has made. They have a different language, they have some words from the African language and they say “I-man” instead of I and they say ”I and I” instead of we and that is because they are pointing on that they are all a part of a whole.

Their national dish is Ackee and saltfish. The ackee fruit was imported to The Caribbean from Ghana and saltfish is just what is sound like, slat fish. The fish should be soaked overnight to eliminate most of the salt. When you prepare the dish you sautéed the fish with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet pepper, tomatoes and spices. It can be garnished with bacon and tomatoes. A funny fact about the ackee is that if you pick an ackee from the tree and it’s not open it can lead to death because then they are toxic.

This was a bit of information about Jamaica that I think is interesting. Thanks for me, Anna.

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This is our first post and we will continue to upload entries where we compare cultures in differente parts of the world.

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