Experiencia Erasmus: Potsdam (Germany) by Flor Gutiérrez


You may wonder why a student of English Philology would choose a German city as an Erasmus destination. Everyone does. My innocent answer to those musings used to be: “I chose Germany because I already know how to speak English, and I am eager to learn German too”. This eagerness came from the fact that, after taking the German course for beginners at the UGR, I went crazy for that language. Of course my experience in Germany showed me that, firstly, my English was not as functional as I thought; and secondly, that what I learnt from the A1-German course allowed me to say only things like “danke schön” at the supermarket.

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New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Traditions

Hello everyone! Today is New Year’s Eve and the year 2017 is just about to begin! I am sure most of you will follow various Spanish traditions tonight, but… Aren’t you curious about how people celebrate these special days in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland or Germany, for instance?

We looked for information and asked some abroad students too, who told us about the most unique traditions and superstitions in their countries. So, if you are interested, continue reading 😉


In Scotland, The New Year’s Eve is known as ‘Hogmanay’. The name comes from a kind of oatcake that was typically given to children on New Year’s Eve.

On this day, many people would choose to spend the night with friends or family. Also, in Edinburgh, a festival is celebrated typically from the 28th of December to the 2nd of January. On the night of the 31st of December a huge party takes place in the city, the Edinburgh Castle’ cannon would be fired at the stroke of midnight, followed by a spectacular fireworks display. They would typically sing the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (The good old days) based on a poem by the Scottish writer Robert Burns in 1788.

[1] ‘Auld Lang Syne’
[1] ‘Auld Lang Syne’

From midnight on, the tradition of ‘first footing’ takes place. Scottish people have various superstitions as they believe the first person to cross their home threshold would determine the fate of the people living there for the new year. Typically, a dark haired man or a stranger would bring good luck. First footers would also bring gifts such as a coin or salt representing prosperity, bread, for food, coal for warmth or whisky to represent cheer, and in many places people would wish one another ”Lang may your lum reek” (hope your chimney will smoke for a long time).

[2] ‘First footing’
[2] ‘First footing’


In England, the New Year’s Eve is not widely celebrated as Christmas but some traditions are still observed. Some people would celebrate the end of the year with their family and friends and others would go to parties, pubs or clubs, especially the young people.

As a fairly recent tradition they would celebrate a big party in London. On TV, they would forecast one of the four clocks on the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster to count down the last seconds of the year, and afterwards, they would kiss at 12 o’clock, toast with champagne or sparkling wine and have fireworks or watch the fireworks taking place in London on TV. They would also do resolutions for the New Year.

[3] Fireworks in London
[3] Fireworks in London

More traditionally, at the stroke of midnight, people would open the back door to let the bad things and the old year out and, in some parts of England, the tradition of first footing also takes place. They would ask the first black haired man to cross the door and the visitors would leave the house using the back door for good luck.

On New Year’s day, the celebrations in London would continue with a huge New Year’s Day parade and most people would typically have a ‘roast dinner’ with their family: meat, vegetables, potatoes and maybe a special dessert and would watch special editions of popular TV programs and programs reviewing the last year.

While some begin the year in such a quiet way, in many coastal towns (in England and other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as in Ireland) people have the tradition to go to the sea at the morning for a New Year’s Day swim! Some may even wear fancy costumes!!

[4] New Year's Day swim
[4] New Year’s Day swim
[5] New Year's Day swim
[5] New Year’s Day swim


In Wales, the New Year’s Eve is called ‘Nos Galan’.

Many celebrations take place at Cardiff castle and Cardiff City Hall, they have fireworks, live music and organise fun-fairs and many other activities.

The tradition of first footing is also typical. It is considered that if the first footer is a woman and a man opens the door is considered bad luck, and if the first footer to cross the threshold in the New Year is a red head, it also represents bad luck.

Another interesting belief is that you should pay all your debts before the New Year begins, and if you don’t do this, it would mean a whole new year of debt!

[6] To-do-list
[6] To-do-list

On New year’s day, called ‘Dydd Calan’, children would get up early to visit their neighbors and sing songs. They would typically be given coins, mince pies, and sweets for singing. This tradition of giving gifts and money is called ‘Calennig‘. Here you can listen to a typical Calennig rhyme!



In Ireland, the New Year’s Eve is called ‘Oíche Chinn Bliana’ and the New Years day is known as ‘Lá Caille’ or ‘Lá Bliana Nua’.

Also in Ireland, many people go to dinners and parties in private homes, pubs or clubs for New Year’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight there may be fireworks and music to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Then, New Year’s Day parades are held in many towns and cities on the 1st of January. A large parade is held in Dublin.

As an old tradition, people would clean their homes, put fresh sheets on their beds, and stock up on food and other household supplies. They believe this would bring them good luck, and a fresh and prosperous start to the New Year.

[7] Cleaning for the new year
[7] Cleaning for the new year

Another funny tradition is that at the stroke of midnight they would bang on the walls and doors of the house with Christmas bread to chase the bad luck out of the house and invite the good spirits in.

[8] Irish Christmas bread or ‘banging bread'
[8] Irish Christmas bread or ‘banging bread’

In some parts, the tradition of first footing is also considered to make predictions for the New Year’s fate and visitors would typically enter the front door and leave the house using the back door for good luck. Also, New year’s dips are organized in coastal towns in Ireland, that is, short swims in the cold waters early at the morning, as in other parts of the United Kingdom (so cold!)


Finally we turn to Germany, where New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester’.

Many parties are held too around the country, but most typically people would invite friends and family to have dinner together at home, for instance many people would eat ‘Raclette’ for dinner and afterwards, they would typically play some board games and funny games for forecasting the future such as distributing fortune cookies or the most typical one called ‘Bleigießen’. They would melt small quantities of lead on a silver spoon above a candle, and they would introduce then the molten lead into a bowl of cold water where it solidifies. Then, they would interpret the shape that the lead finally takes as a symbol for the fortunes of the coming year.

[9] ‘Bleigießen’
[9] ‘Bleigießen’

They would also watch special programs, films and sketches that are broadcast every year. A must-do is to watch the short clip ‘Dinner for one’, a British black and white movie, famous for being the most frequently repeated TV programme ever.

At midnight, people would cheer with sparling wine saying ‘Prost Neujahr’ (informal), do their new year’s resolutions and they would have fireworks afterwards.

Hope you enjoyed reading about these unique traditions!! Make sure you follow some of these to avoid bad luck for the coming year 😉

Spend a great night and Happy New year everyone!!






Contributors who told us about their traditions:

Claudia (Jena, Germany); Emilie (Cambridge, England); John (Nottingham, England); Emyr (Aberystwyth, Wales).

Pictures taken from:

[1] http://artynews.com/auld-lang-syne/

[2] http://www.kit-handford-ceremonies.co.uk/gallery.html

[3] http://www.londonlifestyleawards.com

[4] / [5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3381182/Come-water-s-freezing-Swimmers-brave-icy-sea-traditional-New-Year-s-Day-swims-country-pets-joining-in.html#ixzz4UPfTjgbb

[6] http://stevewelker.ca/2015/05/29/paying-off-debt/

[7] http://ireland-calling.com/irish-new-year-traditions/

[8] http://magazine.foxnews.com/food-wellness/new-years-foods-around-world

[9] http://www.vienayyo.com/¡bleigiesen-por-fin-de-ano/

Author: A.R.G.

Editor: E.R.S.

GERMANY: Knuckle / Codillo (en inglés y español)

Today’s recipe comes from another member of the team of the blog, Vanessa Roldán, student of the last year of English Studies. She thought it could be interesting to add to our list of recipes a German one which is also cooked here in Spain. Enjoy!




  1. 1 kg pork leg.
  2. 4 tomatoes.
  3. 1 onion.
  4. 6 cloves of garlic.
  5. 1 big red pepper.
  6. 3 cloves.
  7. 1 stock Cube.
  8. 1 tablespoon of salt.
  9. 3 tablespoon of olive oil.
  10. 1 tablespoon of thyme.


  1. Boil the pork leg with the tomato, onion, garlic, red pepper, the clove, and the stock cube in a pressure cooker with just some water- it must not totally cover the meat. 45 minutes.
  2. Reserve the resulting broth.
  3. Set the pork leg, the boiled garlic and red pepper, some of the broth, salt, thyme, and olive oil on the baking tray. 180º for 30 minutes.
  4. Enjoy.




  1. 1 kg de codillo.
  2. 4 tomates.
  3. 1 cebolla.
  4. 6 dientes de ajo.
  5. 1 pimiento rojo grande.
  6. 3 clavos de olor.
  7. 1 pastilla de caldo de carne.
  8. 1 cucharada sopera de sal.
  9. 3 cucharadas soperas de aceite de oliva.
  10. 1 cucharada sopera de tomillo.


  1. Cuece el codillo con el tomate, la cebolla, el ajo, el pimiento rojo, el clavo, y la pastilla de caldo de carne en una olla a presión con sólo un poco de agua- ésta no debe cubrir la carne totalmente. 45 minutos.
  2. Reserva el caldo.
  3. Pon el codillo, el ajo y el pimiento rojo cocidos, algo del caldo, sal, tomillo, y aceite de oliva en una bandeja para el horno. 180º durante 30 minutos.
  4. A disfrutar.


Author: V.R.R.

Editor and image: E.R.S.

GERMANY: Spitzbuben / Galletitas alemanas (en alemán, inglés y español)

¡Hoy traemos una receta alemana! Viene de la mano de una profesora del Departamento, Rebecca Cramer. Y nos trae unas galletitas alemanas que además nos envía en alemán, inglés y español, así que nadie tiene excusa para no intentar prepararlas… ¡Aquí teneis la receta!



Für den Teig:

  1. 375 g Mehl.
  2. 1 Teelöffel Backpulver.
  3. 175 g Zucker.
  4. 1 Päckchen Vanillezucker.
  5. 1 Priese Salz.
  6. 125 g gemahlene Mandeln (oder Haselnüsse).
  7. 250 g kalte Butter, in Flocken.
  8. 1 Eigelb.

Für die Verzierung:

  1. Himbeermarmelade.
  2. Puderzucker.

1. Alle Zutaten in eine Schüssel geben und zügig zu einem Teig verkneten. Den Teig im
Kühlschrank ca. 1 Stunde kühl stellen.
2. Den Backofen vorheizen (160°C) und ein Backblech mit Backpapier belegen.
3. Die Arbeitsplatte mit Mehl bestäuben und den Teig ca. 2 mm dick ausrollen. Plätzchen
ausstechen, immer jeweils eins mit und eins ohne Loch (der klassische „Spitzbube“ ist rund aber natürlich kann man auch jede andere Form nehmen, mehr Löcher ausstechen,…). Die Plätzchen auf das Backblech legen und ca. 10-12 Minuten backen. Auf einem Gitter abkühlen lassen.
4. Die Plätzchen ohne Loch mit Marmelade bestreichen. Die Plätzchen mit Loch mit Puderzucker bestäuben.
5. Jeweils ein Plätzchen mit Loch auf eins ohne Loch setzen und zusammenkleben. Genießen!

Am besten kann man die Plätzchen in einer Metalldose zwischen Lagen von Backpapier

aufbewahren. So bleiben sie schön und knusprig.

German Cookies

Ingredients for the dough:

  1. 375g strong/bread flour.
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder.
  3. 175g sugar.
  4. 1 pouch vanilla sugar.
  5. 1 pinch of salt.
  6. 125g ground almonds (or ground hazelnuts).
  7. 250 cold butter, diced.
  8. 1 egg yolk.

Ingredients for the garnish:

  1. Raspberry jam.
  2. Icing sugar.


  1. For the dough, mix all the ingredients and beat until combined well. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and put grease proof paper on the baking tray
  3. Sprinkle the countertop with flour and roll out the dough, about 2 mm thick, and cut into shapes in pairs, one with and one without holes (the traditional “Spitzbube” is round but you can of course choose the shape you like, make more holes, …). Place the cookies on the tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Chill on a rack.
  4. Spread the cookies without holes with a layer of jam. Then, garnish the cookies with holes with icing sugar.
  5. Put the cookies with sugar on top of the cookies with jam and… enjoy!

Keep them in a metallic box with grease proof paper in between layers of cookies: that way they will remain crispy and will look nice!

Galletitas alemanas

Ingredientes para la masa:

  1. 375 g harina de fuerza.
  2. 1 cucharadita de levadura química.
  3. 175 g azúcar.
  4. 1 sobre azúcar de vanilla.
  5. 1 pizca de sal.
  6. 125 g almendras molidas (o avellanas molidas).
  7. 250 g de mantequilla (fría), cortada en trocitos.
  8. 1 yema.

Ingredientes para la decoración:

  1. Mermelada de frambuesa.
  2. Azúcar glasé.


1. Para la masa, mezcla todos los ingredientes y amasa rápidamente. Deja reposar durante una hora en el frigorífico.
2. Precalienta el horno (160°C) y prepara una bandeja con papel de horno.
3. Espolvorea la encimera con un poco de harina y estira la masa (ca. 2 mm). Recorta las galletas, siempre en pares uno con y uno sin agujero (el clásico „Spitzbube“ es redondo pero desde luego puedes usar cualquier molde que te guste, cortar más agujeros, …). Pon las galletas sobre la bandeja y hornea entre 10 y 12 minutos. Deja enfriar en una rejilla.
4. Unta las galletas sin agujero con una capa de mermelada. Espolvorea las galletas con agujero con el azúcar glacé.
5. Pon una galleta con azúcar sobre una con mermelada y… listo para disfrutar!

Guárdalas en una caja metálica entre capas de papel pergamino (papel de horno). Así mantienen su pinta y quedan crujientes.
Fröhliche Weihnachten!


Author: Rebecca Cramer

Image: Rebecca Cramer

Editors: C.L.C., E.R.S.

Preview! Christmas Recipes Special / Especial recetas de Navidad



Do you like any of these recipes?

Do you know all of them?

Do you need some ideas for Christmas?

From December 17 and until December 24 you will find one or two of these recipes each day.

A whole week of Christmas recipes from English/German-speaking countries.

These recipes have been sent to us by both professors and students.

And they are not the totality of the recipes…

There is more to come…

Stay alert!

Editor and image: E.R.S.

Sources images:

Map: http://www.imagui.com/a/mapamundi-en-blanco-png-czEaoxddK

Flags: http://www.banderas-mundo.es/descargar

Scotland flag: https://pixabay.com/es/escocia-bandera-aspa-891914/