Wed 30 Oct 13 - Wed 6 Nov 13 49 °F
This past weekend was Räbeliechtli, Swiss “Halloween" with turnips, not pumpkins. Actually, not Halloween at all. Just purply turnips, and a walk through the fields, and kids singing songs about turnips (at least that’s what it sounded like to me).
My guess is that Räbeliechtli is quite like a harvest festival. For celebration, kids get a lit turnip lantern, walk the lit lanterns from one village to the next, and then get a tasty snack for their efforts. Parents scoop out the insides of large purple turnips and carve designs on the outside, and then put a little tealight on the inside to make it glow in the dark. Turnip Jack O’ Lantern! This one kid was so thrilled that his turnip had a rocket and a plane carved on it. Another kid had his name “LARS” carved on his turnip, and his baby sister had her name on hers, "LAILA." And there seemed to be no fear of open flames - the kids, even 3-year olds, carried their own turnips with dripping wax and all.
On walking from Village A to the Junior School in Village B, I realized how isolating language can possibly be. I did not understand a single word of what every one was chatting about, I did not get the song, nothing. Everyone was rather pleasant and nice, but not having a language in common made it very, very hard to have any meaningful interaction and was quite exhausting to even try my mishmash German and their rudimentary English, with a large dose of hand waving. Which is why I am glad with the decision to live in the city and not out in the beautiful meadows. Like any metro, Zurich has diversity of language. Almost everyone I met in the city is trilingual, with English being one of the 3. Completely validates the choice to be an urbanite.
So, we all walk under the night sky, with little kids trilling their songs, and ended up at the school. The kids got a very traditional treat - a bun stuffed with a stick of chocolate. And the grown-ups got beer and bratwursts. So we are in this school enjoying our snacks and social time: babies in strollers, and toddlers, and noisy 6-7 year olds running around, parents chitchatting and SMOKING! Parents with babies in their arms, smoking right above their babies little heads, throwing cigarette butts on the play ground, and blowing smoke into groups of kids. WTH.
To me, it all looked very negligent and unintelligent. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I'd rather think they are just plain stupid and not necessarily willfully harming their children, because that couldn't possibly be the intent. It would be a kind thought that they were just as loving of their kids as non-smokers. The assumption is that they did not feed their kids McDonald’s 3 times a day and yet, they smoked around their children, and other people’s children. To me, it’s been more than 30+ years since people are educated about the hazards of passive smoke, so no one especially not grown-up educated people of a first world nation have any right to be smoking around kids. More muttering under my breathe.
- * And just to be statistically fair, it was obviously not every parent, but enough numbers of parents for me to have noticed. And that too on a school campus!