Remarkable how you can think something is typical for your own culture and then find out that other cultures share more or less the same thing! This happened when our new Hungarian teacher told us about St Mikulás, the Hungarian tradition where an old saint, accompanied by his helper, would give presents to good children.
We decided to have the Hungarian and Dutch PYP children talk about their experiences of those traditions and discover what we have in common and what might be different. The Hungarian children very much want the Dutch group to know that they hugely enjoyed this project: the cultural link that we all discovered made them feel particularly at home in the school. It was a brilliant idea from Irene to bring them together and they much enjoyed interviewing each other (G3-5) and watching each other’s videos. Especially exciting was the translation project of a song from Hungarian into English, so as to share the meaning with their Dutch friends. The Dutch children also translated their song into English. We all had to make sure the English text would fit into the rhythm, and then managed to learn each other's song! We also had fun creating little Mikulás - Sinterklaas puppets. We shared our treats and sang together on the 4th of December, where we all found our shoes filled with tasty little treats.
Finally, some interesting historical facts we discovered during the project.
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated not just in Hungary and the Netherlands, but all over Central Europe (Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Bavaria (Germany). The Hungarian name for Sinterklaas "Mikulás" actually comes from the Slovakian language. The devil-like helper of Mikulás is called Krampus in Hungary, and the name originates from the Austrian German dialect. In the Czech Republic he is called Mikuláš and he visits with the Devil and the Angel (possible added later for the good/evil balance).