Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Buergbrennen!

Sonndeg, 14 Februar.

Just a quick post today from Luxembourg, where people are celebrating Valentine's Day by burning giant crosses.

No, really! For Luxembourgers, today is not only Valentine's Day; it also happens to be a beloved tradition called Buergbrennen. And although I am celebrating a typically American Valentine's Day (read: eating chocolate and watching chick flicks with girl friends), I thought it might be fun to tell you a little more about how the average Luxembourger is spending their 14 February.

Traditionally celebrated in parts of France, Germany, and Belgium, this holiday is now celebrated in Luxembourg on the first Sunday of Lent, Buergsonndeg. Despite these religious associations, Buergbrennen originated as a pagan festival that marked the annual triumph of spring over winter. Today, locals gather together to construct Buergen, massive bonfires topped with wooden crosses, and to eat traditional food. Then, as the sun sets, they then march in a torchlight procession and set fire to the Buergen, using the flames to chase away winter and mark the beginning of spring!

PS. Is this not strange enough for you? Then check out the town of Remich, which marks the beginning of Lent with the burning of a straw person. The Luxemburger Wort has the scoop!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Adventures in Scotland: A Day in the Highlands

Samschdeg, 13 Februar.

On Saturday, we opted to do the most touristy thing imaginable and take a guided bus tour of the Scottish Highlands. Our tour from Scottish Tours took us through the Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Loch Ness, and Cairngorm National Park before returning to Edinburgh.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Adventures in Scotland: Hello, Edinburgh!

Freideg, 12 Februar.

I have to say: one of the perks of being a teacher -- or, to be more specific, of being an assistant teacher on a yearlong Fulbright grant -- is the holidays. When your students are out of school, so are you!

When the stars aligned and my high school went on break just as the university semester finally ended, I took advantage of my week of vacation to visit my friend -- and Kappa Delta little-little -- Rachel in Scotland, where she is studying for a semester at the University of St. Andrews. We spent a week bouncing around Scotland, based first in the capital city of Edinburgh and then in the picturesque town of St. Andrews.

I stayed for a total of three days in Edinburgh, one of which was spent on a bus trip through the Scottish Highlands. (More on *that* incredible experience later.) What an amazing place! And although Rachel and I spent most of our time traipsing through the city with that unflagging enthusiasm that only American tourists seem to possess, I feel as if we might not have even come close to scratching the surface of what this beautiful city has to offer.