Tag Archives: culture

Languages Europe

European day of languages!

Today is the European day of languages!

The European Day of Languages is 26th September, as proclaimed by the Council of Europe, at the end of the European Year of Languages (2001). Its aim is to encourage language learning across Europe.

Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states are encouraged to learn more languages, at any age, in and out of school. The Council of Europe believes that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and is a key element in the rich cultural heritage of Europe.

Key themes

The key themes behind the European Day of Languages are:

  • Educating the masses about the importance of language learning
  • Diversifying the range of languages learned by the public in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
  • Promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe;
  • Encouraging lifelong language learning in and out of school.

Europe is home to more than 220 languages!  With globalization, citizens increasingly need foreign language skills to work effectively throughout the world. English is important but perhaps no longer enough.


On the occasion of the day, a range of events are organized across Europe, including those for children, television and radio programmes, language classes, and conferences. There are online events and offers as well, which take place on the web!
The EDL website hosts many online games to test your language knowledge and skills.

The highlight events of 2012 included Lyrics and Rap Competition, Speak Dating, Language Exchange, Talking Online Avatars, Live Flags, Online courses, and more!

CultureAlley is offering its Spanish course for free on the EDL website: Check out the details here!
So are you all ready to venture into learning a new language? Explore the linguist within you!

Picture: Urion Argador

13th floor

Friday the 13th and other superstitions!

All of us have heard of, and at some point believed in some superstition or the other! Whether it is about Friday the 13th being an unlucky day, black cats crossing our path, beginner’s luck, bad luck coming in threes, doomsday, and more!

Today we discuss some such interesting (and some amusing) myths, beliefs, and superstitions across cultures!
Starting with the one that happens today – ‘Friday the 13th’ is actually said to be a pretty recent superstition, gaining popularity only post the 18th century!

It is a combination of two older superstitions about Friday and the number 13. Friday has  been considered unlucky for a long time.
In numerology, 12 symbolizes harmony and completeness: 12 months in a year, 12 hours of a clock, twelve signs of the Zodiac, etc…
13, on the other hand is considered irregular.

However, did you know that Friday the 13th is not considered unlucky everywhere?

Spanish speaking countries:
In Spanish-speaking countries (specifically in Spain), instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck! There is a saying: “Martes 13: ni te cases, ni te embarques” (Tues 13th: Don´t get married, nor board [a plane]).
Although some Latinos consider Friday the 13th unlucky as well.

13 is actually considered lucky in China! In China, the numbers are considered auspicious or inauspicious based on the Chinese word the number name sounds similar to.
Number 8 is considered extremely lucky because its pronunciation is similar to Chinese pronunciation of ‘prosperity’. The Chinese believe that the numbers 8, 18, 13, and 168 are lucky.
Number 4 is considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for ‘death’. The belief is so strong that 4 is omitted from the elevators, car registration numbers, house numbers, etc…
Gifts in sets of four are also not good because 四 (, four) sounds like 死 (, death).

In Italy too 13th is not considered unlucky. 17 on the other hand is!

Here are some other superstitions:

Spanish speaking world:

  1. If, while sweeping, the broom hits the feet of a single person, that person will never marry!
  2. When offering a toast, look every person in the group in the eye and never toast with a glass of water!
  3. When passing salt, never hand the salt shaker to someone – just keep it on the table for the other person to pick it up


  1. The Chinese believe that clipping toe-nails or finger-nails at night would bring ghosts to that place.
  2. The Chinese believe that the entire house should be cleaned before the New Year’s day. On the New Year’s day, all brooms and brushes are put away and the floors are not swept as it is believed that it may sweep away the good fortune!
  3. Gifting clocks should be avoided because clocks symbolize that the time is running out

The list of-course is endless! Tell us about some superstitions that you have heard of or believe in!

And yes – Happy Friday the 13th :)