Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Doing Things Differently

Obviously things are done differently in different countries because of preference, culture, tradition, etc. In the past month or so, we have experienced some of the differences for the first time, or been reminded of them. There was an minor earthquake here in mid December. In the states, I believe it is common during drills or actual quakes to get under doorways, or desks or similar. Here everybody tries to get outside and out from under balconies because the ceilings are concrete and you really don't want that coming down on you.
In this region a decorated evergreen is really more for New Year's, just like Santa, and the tree involved in Orthodox Christmas celebration is a branch cut from an oak tree, retaining it's withered brown leaves. We saw several people selling these on Christmas Eve (January 6th). People display these (undecorated) outside the entrance to their homes, some even fasten small ones to the grill or mirror of their car. Then late that night the tradition is to take them to the church where they are burned in a bonfire. I believe it has something to do with protection from evil throughout the year. We did notice that some people just toss theirs in the trash though.
Fireworks and crackers are set of starting in the beginning of December and are especially prevelent at midnight or December 31st, January 6th and January 13th(the 14th is Orthodox New Year). Hopefully they are all done now for awhile. On the plus side they taught Esther a new word' "bang!"
They don't really do "toddler beds" here either. You graduate from a crib to a twin bed with no rails. I believe they stay in the crib for awhile. We choose to use crib mattresses on the floor so that if the girls do roll out, the don't have far to go. We surround the wall with foam puzzle pieces to keep them from bumping their heads on it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting To Know Montenegro

First, apologies that it's been so long since I made a post.

Now here is are some random "did you know?"s about Montenegro
Montenegro is the Latin name for the country, but the people here call it Crna Gora (which also means black mountain).
Montenegro was an independent kingdom early last century, though some parts of it's modern territory were ruled by the Ottoman and Austrian empires
Around the first world war Serbia incorporated MNE into it's domain. The royal family was exiled to France where they still live.
After the second world war it was part of Yugoslavia
When Yugoslavia was dismantled, it remained with Serbia until 2006, when it became an independent nation again.

The official language is Montenegrin, which is closely related to Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian (just think of the differences between the English spoken in US, Great Britain and Australia for example).
According to Wikipedia, only about 45% of the population is actually Montenegrin and about 29% is Serbian. Just under 9% is from Bosnia.
The population is just under 630,000 as of the 2011 census. 
The size of the country is 5019 square miles (just a bit smaller that Connecticut, whose population is over 3 1/2 million).
Here is an approximate breakdown of the religious affiliations of the people here: 60% Orthodox Christian, 30% Muslim, 8% Catholic Christian. The remainder includes Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventists, and "other." Evangelical Protestant Christian makes up less than one tenth of one percent-about 200 total.
Since the majority of population is Orthodox, that is the calendar that is followed, so today, January 7th is actually Christmas.
And as a fun fact, Santa (here called Deda Mraz-Grandfather Frost) is associated with New Year's rather than Christmas-this is common in some former communist countries.