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*Coldplay v. Hot Chelle Rae

This afternoon it occurred to me that I have no idea what’s on the radio in the US right now, and that I was likely a bit out of the loop on the US music scene.  I decided to check out Rick Dees and the Weekly Top 40’s website to see who was on the list.

After scanning the list for just a few seconds, I came to two conclusions:

  1. Five months outside of your own country is longer than I realized, and
  2. I might be a bit lost when I come home next month.  (I mean, “Why are there so many cars, what happened to the sidewalks, why does “hey” mean “hello” and not “yeah”, and who are Jesse J and Andy Grammer (and does Andy know his last name is spelled wrong”)?

I did not recognize a single song on the list until I came to number 29 (thank you Good Life by One Republic for being popular in Europe too), altogether I only knew 3 of the 40 songs, and there were 16 artists on the list who’s names I’d never seen nor heard before in my life.  (But seriously, not to judge a band by it’s name, with names like  “Cobra Starship,” “Bad Meets Evil,” “LMFAO”, and “Hot Chelle Rae,” I can’t be missing much).

It seems like these days my music tastes are a bit more UK-inspired… I’ve actually been listening to Coldplay (usually don’t), Mumford & Sons have still got it, and I’m really looking forward to Snow Patrol’s new album coming out on the 14th!

So, for a taste of Coldplay > Hot Chelle Rae (no offense), check out the video for Every Teardrop is a Waterfall:

(And if you really don’t believe me, YouTube “Tonight Tonight” … You’ll see.  Actually, on the other hand… Don’t; just take my word for it).

*PS: Thank you YouTube and Coldplay for the video/screenshot picture.

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*Halloween, Reformation Day, and Pamiatka Zosnulých.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Halloween.  I liked it when I was seven or eight years old and it meant lots of free candy, but as I’m too old to go trick-or-treating and don’t even want to eat that much candy, it’s not a “holiday” I get excited about anymore.  That being said, Halloween is not commonly celebrated in Slovakia, and I wasn’t the slightest disappointed to miss it this year.  (Okay, okay, the costume part is kind of fun, but it’s not like anyone needs Halloween to dress up).

It turns out that Halloween isn’t the only holiday celebrated on October 31st though.  Raised Baptist, the little I know about the Reformation is what I learned in history in school, but among Lutheran churches (perhaps particularly among European Lutheran churches), Reformation Day is still celebrated each year on October 31st.  (This is the day that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses for church reformation to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517).  So yesterday, instead of donning some sort of costume and heading to a party, I went to an evening church service with my friends Miska and Milotka.  The service was similar to a Sunday morning service in a Slovak Lutheran church and quite beautiful.  Although I often miss the praise bands and simple services that I’m used to, there is something about liturgy and ancient hymns that reflects the beauty and holiness of God in a much more profound way.

After the service, the girls introduced me to another holiday I had never experienced before, Pamiatka Zosnulych, or All Souls’ Day.  I’m familiar with the name of the holiday (the English name, at least), but I recognize it mainly as words on a calendar, not as an event or something to celebrate.  In Slovakia, this is a day to remember deceased family members, and it is often celebrated over several days.  As Milotka explained to me, it is similar to “Homecoming in America,” because family members living in different places often travel home to be with their family.  Families visit cemeteries where their relatives are buried, and cover the graves in flowers and candles.

Perhaps “graves covered in flowers and candles” doesn’t sound especially spectacular to you, but the reality of what this looks like is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  After the Reformation Day service, Miska, Milotka and I walked to the nearby cemetery.  This did feel a little bit like Halloween, but as the idea of a dark, empty cemetery at night sounds terrifying to me, there’s no way I’d usually venture there on Halloween night!  However, the cemetery was neither dark nor empty.  Can you imagine a cemetery set on a rolling hill full of people, old and young, blanketed in candlelight?  I was amazed at how many candles there were, and how beautiful it looked!  (I really don’t think of cemeteries as pretty places, but it truly was)!  I’ve included a few pictures so you can get idea, but they really don’t capture what it looked like.

I was glad to get to experience this, and it was fun to experience a part of Slovak culture that I’d never seen before.  All in all, it was a unique “Halloween.”

*Second photo from http://subory.hnusta.sk/udaje/Objekty/obrazky/2008/cirkev/pamiatka-zosnulych-03.JPG

*Fall in Hipstamatic Photo Slideshow

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