< SWITCH ME >
Every January in Italy, an old woman, very similar to a witch, delivers gifts to children (or coal, depending on whether they have behaved well or not during the previous year)
With the Christmas celebrations coming up soon, it's the right time to learn more about traditions that sometimes overlap but can also differ from country to country. Taking advantage of the fact that she's lived in different European cities, Nicoletta Enria uncovers the origins and current life of lesser-known European Christmas traditions featuring, among others, a witch and tasty desserts. Stay tuned on E&M to read more about Christmas traditions in Europe.
Advent has begun and with it the countdown to the most awaited holiday of the year. Christmas decorations appear as if from thin air, the temperature halves and overall the atmosphere seems to be one of blissful joy, no matter what. There is nothing like wondering through a Christmas market or merely observing Christmas decorations and feeling that inexplicable explosion of excitement. Originally, Christmas was solely the celebration of the birth of Christ but, interesting enough, in Arabic the word for birthday and Christmas are the same. Due to its origin, Christmas is mainly celebrated in Christian countries, however it has seeped its way into the atheist homes with each European country, region and household developing its own unique traditions.
The communist Buzludzha momunent, completed in 1981, has gone to rack and ruin since the revolution
In the next part of our series commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in many parts of Central and Southeastern Europe, we turn our attention to Bulgaria. Milen Iliev was only a young child when revolution came to his country, but vividly remembers the changes that took place in the 1990s.
The fall of communism came about in Bulgaria on 10 November 1989 with the resignation of long-serving leader Todor Zhivkov. I was just about to turn three at the time. I was at that point of growing up, when I was getting ready to leave the confines of my home and join society for the first time in my life by going to nursery. Bulgaria was in a similar position – it was a newborn state, which was about to enter the world of democracy and capitalism and join a larger community of nations through the beginnings of globalisation.
Both Bulgaria and I had a lot of growing up to do. Perhaps the single most common leitmotif when you read about the process of growing up is the idea of the loss of innocence. In a nutshell, the argument is that once you start to realise what suffering and injustice are and how you can help or hinder their development in the world around you, you are not innocent anymore.
"I find beautiful things we tend to neglect" – An interview with the winner of November's Europe Through a LensWritten by Editorial
Junyuan Chen comes from China, but dreams of living long-term in Europe, where he is currently studying. 22 years old, he takes pictures in his free time, immortalising the landscapes of our beautiful continent. Two of his shots won first and second place in our Europe Through a Lens competition last month. E&M's Veronica Pozzi caught up with this young and motivated photographer, whose works so impressed our judges, to hear more.
Junyuan's passion for photography was born in an unusual way. "Originally my hobby was actually making plastic models", he tells our magazine. "I bought a camera to take nice photos of my models. That's how I learnt some basic knowledge about photography: I haven't taken any lessons, I learn all the concepts and techniques through the internet (e.g. YouTube, forums) and books".
Originally from China, he is now pursuing a Master's degree in Accounting at the University of Glasgow, in the UK. It is not anything related to photography, that's for sure, but it was right after studying abroad for the first time that he picked up photography as his major hobby. In Glasgow, he is also a member of the University Photo Society, where he likes to "share ideas with fellows and take photos together with them". Thanks to a post on the society's Facebook page he first heard about the E&M photo competition. He then decided to enter two of his works for the November's edition of the contest, the theme of which was "Europe at night". "I wanted to test myself", he explains. And it went well. Let's find out a little more about his prize-winning pictures...
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we've set out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe.
Here at E&M, we don't just want to know what young Europeans think about Europe, we also want to find out how they see and feel the continent. Sixth Sense plays host to a photo competition called Europe Through a Lens and we publish a selection of our readers' photographic work on a regular basis. All you have to do is submit images that you think best represent our European theme of the month.
With the festive season upon us, we've settled on the theme of "Illuminated Europe". Entries could be anything from Christmas trees decked out with fairy lights to fireworks in night sky or candle-lit suppers. It's all down to you and your powers of imagination: feel free to interpret the theme however you see fit!
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