20x30 PRAA1422Every May since 1995, there has been a big runners' event going on in Prague – the Prague International Marathon, celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year. The Prague Marathon has risen in popularity and has become one of the most prestigious city marathons in the world, hosting up to ten thousand runners from many different countries. The Prague Marathon even gained  IAFF Gold Label status in 2010, an award that only 17 city marathons has won world-wide so far. 
Of course, as the  Prague office of idioma includes a number of serious sportsmen of all kind, we had our representatives in a peloton of the major marathon event this year in the Czech Republic. READY - SET - GO!

Finish line of heroes

photoThe first idioma runner, Tomas – one of our IT and TM guys, has already participated in various half-marathons, but this time he decided to go all the way and apply for his first full marathon in life.

"I had a feeling that (compared to half-marathons) the crowd in the audience was more appreciative and grateful towards the runners who actually passed the finish line. It didn't matter whether someone made it in 4 or 6 hours, everyone was cheered and applauded rapturously. A lot of little kids were standing by the track with their hands extended, eagerly asking for high-fives and having a wonderfully joyful time when they collected some." 

Although probably gripping for foreigners and out-of-Prague participants, the marathon circuit starting and ending at the famous Old Town Square, runs through Prague's old town and along the Vltava riverbanks. Still these were unsatisfactory vistas for Tomas, who's been living in Prague for years. "The track is indeed long, but to me also a bit boring – after the 10th km had passed, I contemplated how to (except for the running) entertain myself for the next 3 hours", he said. As marathon is both physically and psychically exhausting, it's definitely a discipline for winner-oriented minds. "At  the 32nd kilometer I got struck by a terrible pain in my knee, so I alternately ran and limped the last 10 kilometers. But I told myself I just had to make it through the finish line."

Don't dive and run

20x30 PRAA5384Another story is our Prague office manager Jan, an experienced marathon wolf running already his 2nd full marathon. Being a passionate long-distance and cross-country runner, Jan rarely misses events and opportunities for a good run. But, as Jan remarked, "life is too short to enjoy all we wish to do and sometimes we need to pick just one". But this wasn't the case this time, as the choice was really impossible.

"Last weekend, two events of my favorite activities took place at the same time – two days of deep technical diving in beautiful lakes in Austria, followed by participating in  the Prague International Marathon on Sunday, with only one short night in between", Jan said. "All was just beautiful and great, however, it made me  realize one deep truth: man can do just one activity with top results, or can enjoy several activities, but on lower level only. The price I had to pay for the great weekend combining my two obsessions was a lot of pain and personal overwhelming, for just a very average marathon result – 4:15, more than 30 minutes behind my best time". 

Despite Jan's little disappointment over his 2015 Prague Marathon result, the truth is that there's not many people who would even run a full marathon, but instead walk the full  distance. Therefore we congratulate all the Prague Marathon participants...but mostly Tomas and Jan!20x30 PRAG0871

As a multinational company, we encounter with many different winter traditions as well as multicultural approaches to Christmas. While our Prague office went off the chain this year and has been decorated in a very festive Christmasy way since the beginning of Advent, our colleagues in Tokyo are preparing for the Japanese New Years celebrations instead, having a white cake and the traditional KFC bucket for Christmas dinner... Wait - what??

KFC, illumination and Mariah Carey

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Traditional Japanese Christmas cake
(source: Dollar Photo Club)

Since the 1970s, it has been a tradition for Japanese people to indulge in  KFC during Christmas, no matter how surprising and weird  it may sound to Europeans or Americans. Foreigners back in those day couldn't get their Christmas roast chicken so they went to KFC. The chain saw this as a good marketing opportunity and indeed, eating a fried-chicken-bucket has been a traditional thing since then in Japan. In fact, the Japanese version of Christmas seems a bit like a concentrate of all the western glitz and glamor multiplied by 10 :) You hear Mariah Carey everywhere and of course Wham!'s Last Christmas is an eternal hit. On Tatsuro Yamashita – Christmas Eve – the majority of Japanese people annually buy and eat a cake with fruit and icing. Also illumination is a big thing during Christmas in Japan.

Interestingly, Christmas is a season for couples in Japan, not families as in Europe or the States.  Couples  get together during Christmas, exchange presents and eat at expensive restaurants. It's not a good time for being single on Christmas in Japan – many singles feel sad because couples are together virtually everywhere (this yearly pleasure of single people is reserved for Valentine's day on the other side of the world). There are even social gatherings for single people looking for a partner during the Christmas season. On the other hand, New Years is the time for family gatherings in Japan.

Fishes in bath tubs, lead pouring and angels everywhere

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idioma Prague office - 
Christmas decoration making

On the other side of the globe in Prague, central Europe, the Christmas radio set list matches with Japan, however that's pretty much the end of resemblance. Czech Christmas traditions are tightly bound to religion and Christian customs, however due to cultural impact after the fall of communism several before unknown elements have been adopted. The decoration of the idioma Prague office is self-evident in this regard with a Christmas tree decorated with straw adornments and angels, the Advent wrath, pine branches with hanging chocolates and Christmas socks, local special Christmas incense sticks called "Frantisek", bells over the front door and pieces of cinnamon all around the place.

In the Czech republic, Christmas is a purely family event. It is literally the one time of the year when all members of the family should gather for a common Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, settle conflicts and enjoy each others' presence. Because of this, Christmas is also the busiest time of the year in the majority of Czech kitchens. 

Christmas pastry as well as traditional Christmas dishes are rather complicated and usually prepared several weeks in advance. Traditional Czech Christmas Eve dinner usually consists of a cabbage soup, potato salad and baked or fried fish (carp being the prime choice). Interestingly, it is still a preference and also strong-lived custom in Czech families to buy the fish alive and keep it in the bath tub until the feast comes. The kids love it. Poor fish. At the right moment, the fish is ritually killed (usually by the head of the family – the father, although a lot of fathers opt for the less brutal alternative and go out and buy ready-to-eat  fish filets or even fish fingers).

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Poor Czech Christmas carp
(source: Dollar Photo Club)

Another remarkable Czech custom, and also fathers' responsibility, is the lead pouring. The head of the family pours liquid lead into cold water to create a solid shape to recognize. The imagination is very important here, as it is said that the lead shape predicts the family future. We decided better not to risk this tradition inside our office :)

So that's how winter and Christmas work in Japan and Czech Republic. For fascinating winter tradition in Sweden, wait for our next blog. Until then, you can admire these delicious Czech Christmas sweets!

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Time flies, no matter how much we try to outwit it. As it happens, because of all the intense translation, amazing project management and innovative online translation and localization tools development, we almost missed that the Czech office of idioma® is already 20 years old! :)

To celebrate such an important event, we decided to launch our very first idioma blog at blog.idioma.com. Our idioma blog represents a platform to inform you about the field of translation localization as well as to bring useful information and guidelines. And, of course, to give you a little peak behind the curtains and show more about us at idioma®...

...for example, what's our secret at idioma® that we look so cool and fresh even after 20 years... :)

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