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Monsters from Around the World

Every culture has its own version of “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night.” Traditional legends about vampires, zombies, and witches can be found across the globe, though the names and characterizations of these creatures vary depending on where you are. Just in time for Halloween, here are some international variations on your favorite horror movie beasties:

The Vampire

To Westerners, the most familiar version of the vampire myth is the one made famous by Bram Stoker: an undead, aristocratic monster that lives off of human blood and can change shapes at will. These characteristics come from older Eastern European legends and folk tales that became popular in Western Europe in the late 19th century.  Here are some different types of vampires from around the world. All have one thing in common: They want to suck your blood! Read more

Clowns in Translation: Our Love/Hate Relationship With Clowns Around the World

These days, we tend to associate clowns with either children’s entertainment or horror stories. Witness the “Great Clown Panic of 2016” currently sweeping the globe.  From small-town America to the UK to Australia and New Zealand, “creepy clowns” have been terrifying the populace.

This may seem like a modern-day problem, but actually, clowns have been with us always. Even the creepy ones. “Clown” figures exist in cultures and mythologies from around the world. And they’re often a little terrifying.

So, just in time for Halloween, let’s take a look at creepy clowns around the world.

A Brief History of Clowns Around the World

The first clowns we have a record of date back to Ancient Egypt, where dwarf clowns entertained the Pharoah as far back as 2500 BCE.  Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, comedy plays featured performers in outlandishly designed and padded costumes wearing masks that exaggerated their facial features. Ancient Greek theater also featured “rustic buffoon” characters called sklêro-paiktês who are sometimes credited as the ancestors of modern 3304_-_athens_-_stoa_of_attalus_museum_-_theatre_mask_-_photo_by_giovanni_dallorto_nov_9_2009clowns.

The ancient Roman theater also featured a “rustic buffoon” laborer type, called a fossor.  Another type of Ancient Roman clown was the stupidus, a constant victim of tragicomic misfortune, often self-inflicted. As you might have guessed, this is the origin of the English word “stupid.”

But in a twist that will come as absolutely no surprise to those of you with coulrophobia, there’s another inspiration for the modern-day clown: the comic demon of medieval passion plays. Over time, the trickster demon turned into the trickster harlequin of the Italian Commedia dell’arte.

Meanwhile, court jesters, with their multicolored outfits, entertained kings, nobles and townspeople alike starting from the medieval period on to through the 18th century.

Where Does the Word “Clown” Come From?

The origin of the English word “clown” is uncertain, but it is thought to derive from a Nordic word meaning “clumsy.

Want to call someone a clown in another language? Many languages have two different words for clown: one borrowed from the English “clown” and one from the Italian “Pagliaccio.” Here’s how to say “clown” in 11 languages:

  1. French: clown or Paillasse 
  2. Russian:  кло́ун or пая́ц
  3. Greek κλόουν
  4. Danish/Norwegian: klovn
  5. Romanian clovn
  6. Italian: clown or pagliaccio
  7. Spanish: payaso
  8. Catalan and Galician: pallasso
  9. Turkish: palyaço
  10. German: Pajass
  11. Yiddish: פּאַיאַץ (payats)

Read more

Vocabulary for the Day of the Dead

Right after Halloween, on November 1st and November 2nd, Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, or El Dia de los Muertos. Unlike Halloween, where traditional activities like dressing up in costumes stem from an attempt to protect the living from the dead, traditional rituals on El Dia de los Muertos are intended to welcome dead friends and relatives.

On these two days, the spirits of the dead are said to be able to visit their families again. The first day of the celebration, November 1st, is for dead infants and children. The second day is for adults. To mark the holiday, families clean and decorate the graves of their loved ones, prepare special foods to give as offerings, and often spend the whole day and even the night at the cemetery. Read more

Dracula in Translation

Dracula in Translation

It’s almost Halloween! That means it’s an excellent time to reread your old horror favorites like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Most cultures have some sort of indigenous vampire mythology. But Stoker’s novel helped spread the modern, Western image of the vampire around the world.  What dark, supernatural powers made it so influential?

The power of translation, of course! Here are 6 facts about Dracula around the world that you might not have heard before.

Dracula is available in at least 29 languages.

Dracula has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1897. During that time, it has been translated into at least 29 languages. That’s not quite Translation Hall of Fame material but it’s not too shabby, either.

Dracula’s origins are lost in translation.

Many people think Stoker based Dracula on the historical Wallachian ruler Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler. But this is likely a myth. There are certainly some similarities between the two figures. For example, some English speaking texts call Vlad Tepes “Voivode Dracula.” And the Count talks about fighting Turks as a mortal. But there’s not much evidence that Stoker modeled his fictional vampire on Vlad the Impaler. Read more

Dogs need sweets too

Halloween from Around the World

We all know Halloween as an unnerving holiday celebrated on the night of October 31st with the traditional activities of trick-or-treating, bonfires, pumpkin carving and costume parties, but little do we know how it is celebrated around the world? Halloween boasts its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, by which Scottish and Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America, initiating the involvement of other western countries.

English-speaking Canadian areas and the USA are the stereotypical places where Halloween is emphasised and celebrated the most in the world. It was not until the 19th century at which the event became a holiday. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America was recorded by a 1911 newspaper when children were reported as being rewarded for their rhymes and songs with nuts and sweets as a result of visiting local shops and neighbours. Commercialisation of Halloween did not start in America until the 20th Century but it is now the second most popular holiday, after Christmas – can you believe it? Read more

K International Spooktacular

K International Spooktacular

So it’s that monstrous time of year when the K International team let their professional hair down a little and get their fangs deep into Halloween.

Here’s a few ghoulish pictures of the staff, organised by our gruesome #Ksocialteam, Sherrien Collins & Sajeda Al-Nashash. Read more